Start-Up Community Catalyst of the Year 2018: Meet the finalists

A new category for 2018, find out which workspaces, incubators and accelerators are helping the next generation of businesses to succeed

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Over the past eight years, TechHub has been integral in London’s technology ecosystem. It has supported the growth of more than 3,000 businesses at various stages of development through its community, programming, and ecosystem outreach. To date, its members have raised more than $1bn and been acquired by major global firms including Google, Microsoft and Twitter. It doesn’t take equity, impose metrics or membership time limits.

The Trampery

The Trampery was one of the key players in the creation of London’s now world-renowned Tech City back in 2009 with its first workspace. Nearly a decade later, more than 500 businesses have benefited from its facilities, unique environment and variety of support programmes. As a social enterprise, all its profits go to supporting its community and to helping relieve poverty through entrepreneurship.

Bethnal Green Ventures

Bethnal Green Ventures isn’t just an investor, it’s an investor on a mission to improve the lives of millions by supporting talented tech teams striving to tackle social and environmental challenges. The BGV accelerator programme provides £20,000 funding (in exchange for 6% equity) and an intensive three month support programme. It has invested £2.5m to date into a community of 200 tech for good founders.

New Entrepreneurs Foundation

“So much more than your average start-up development programme,” the New Entrepreneurs Foundation (NEF) is a non-profit organisation dedicated to training the next generation, delivering original research to identify gaps in entrepreneurship take-up in the UK, devising programmes to plug those gaps and advocating for entrepreneurial support in UK policy. Since 2011, its alumni have launched 110 ventures, raised more than £56m and created 1,500 jobs.

Ignite Accelerator

Since 2011, Ignite Accelerator has supported and invested in more than 150 businesses through its pre-accelerator and accelerator programmes. The three-month pre-accelerator programme provides £10,000 investment, mentoring and office space in Newcastle. The six-month remote accelerator programme offers £25,000 net investment and advice on scaling and getting products to market.

Founders Factory

Backed by the likes of L’Oreal, Aviva, easyjet, CSC, Guardian Media Group, Holtzbrinck and M&S, Founders Factory is an exclusive programme: only 1% of applications are accepted. They get access to a full-time operations team of 60 digital experts across the key areas of product, engineering, design, data science, growth, branding, PR & marketing, business development and fundraising. To date, its 70 founders have raised a total of £100m.

Rocketmakers Ltd

Founded by former Microsoft consultant Richard Godfrey and software architect Keith Walker in 2007, Rocketmakers seeks out pioneering tech projects at the “forefront of possibility”. But the pair also asks the question: “Will the start-up be making the world a better place”. Rocketmakers only partners with a few promising founders a year and is currently working with five start-ups including a clean-energy provider and a fine-dining rewards app.


Launch22 is just over four years’ old but already has an alumni of more than 620 businesses. It offers affordable co-workspace, 8-10 free events a month (including networking, pitching and workshops) and mentoring from its roster of 32 mentors. It also runs a three-month programme supporting entrepreneurs facing barriers to work such as asylum seekers and ex-convicts. All membership revenue goes back into running its programmes.


Located in the old media building of the London Olympics at Here East, Plexal’s mission is to forge connections between start-ups and scale-ups and corporates. Its relationships with the likes of Barclays and Hiscox gives members access to expert advice on branding, insurance, legal issues and recruitment. It also offers an accelerator programme targeted specifically at female-led start-ups.

Runway East

Runway East’s co-working space and community is designed exclusively for high-growth start-ups, granting access to a community of peers, investors and service providers that can help to boost their growth. Across its five London locations and one in Bristol, it has now supported more than 2,000 high-potential start-ups who have raised a combined £210m in investment. It’s now set to bring its unique proposition to more regional areas across the UK.

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