A Chat with Gavin Poole, CEO at Innovation and Technology Campus: Here East

Gavin Poole

Here East is London’s largest tech and innovation campus, located on Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in East London. Once the Press and Broadcast Centre for the Olympic Games, the 1.2 million sq ft campus is now home to over 5,400 innovators, creatives and academics, and fostering collaboration has remained a pre-eminent feature of our design ever since the beginning.

Our campus has evolved to become a catalyst for growth and a launchpad for innovation for startups, creatives and academic institutions

East London has become a global hub for three of the fastest growing tech clusters in the capital: esports, cybersecurity and the creative sectors, with Here East providing founders with the tools and conditions for growth. Our local community is home to some of the most creative talent which we can foster and nurture here on site.
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What do you think makes Here East unique?

While visions for the London 2012 legacy may have changed over the years – Here East’s has always remained the same, and we haven’t looked back since we opened our doors. Our vision was built on the notion that collaboration works – and our success is the proof.

At the heart of our vision, we have made sure that we engage with the communities around us. We wanted to create an environment that was appealing and reflective of those around us and we believe we have achieved this. Local employment on campus, investment into the community, supply chain development, GVA enhancement and opportunities for all are well documented and celebrated. The process of curating the right mix of tenants and institutions has worked.

At the heart of our vision in 2012 was an ‘at-scale innovation centre’. This became a reality through the creation of Plexal, which Andrew Roughan, my partner at Here East, has driven forward to become a world leading innovation hub – which is trusted by GCHQ and the UK government to deliver renowned accelerators and programmes for the startups protecting our digital futures.


How has Here East evolved over the last couple of years?

One of our fastest growth areas over the past couple of years on campus is undoubtedly esports. East London is one of the fastest growing esports clusters in the world – and Here East is right at the centre of it. Not only do we attract the businesses and the talent to grow this sector in London, combined with the work of the LLDC and Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, we are able to attract world class esports and competitive gaming events to the Copper Box and our own event spaces which has made the Park a key destination in the UK for this incredibly exciting and fast growth sector.

We have also continued to put an emphasis on our legacy promise – to bring the local community on the journey with us. In 2021, we pledged to offer full tuition fees, maintenance loan supplements and facilitate work experience placements to three students per year residing in the growth boroughs with our Scholarship Programme. The scholarship is aimed at students who are the first in their families to go to university, face financial barriers or are caregivers. We want to continue to widen our impact through providing meaningful opportunities for education and employment in our local area.

What can we hope to see from Here East in the future?

Our work is certainly not finished. We continue to see growth and at over 95% let, we are looking at what the future holds for the next ten years.

Our impact has been far-reaching and stretches far beyond the campus. We have been a driving force behind the growth of emerging sectors, creative industries, and we are forging relationships with cultural institutions like the V&A. Recent Oxford Economics data shows that we have directly or indirectly supported more than 10,000 jobs and £700 million in the economy – that is something I am immensely proud of.

Having reflected on the past ten years, we are now committed to focussing on looking forward to the next ten years. How do we continue to lead the charge as a seedbed for future growth areas, like the metaverse or cleantech? Post 2012, ‘legacy’ was projected to initially last for 20 years. Of course, we all now know that we will deliver long beyond the 20 year horizon and our future plans will make absolutely sure of that.