Claire Cockerton is the woman behind Plexal. Driven by the need to bring together companies pioneering new technology, Plexal City has been described as the perfect tech hub designed to empower businesses to come together and collaborate. Housed in 68,000sq.ft at Here East neighbours include the likes of Loughborough University, UCL and London College of Fashion.
This week at the east London based campus Plexal announced its first-ever Plexiglass accelerator programme, in partnership with the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) and Barclays Eagle Labs. The programme will support and enable 12 female-led tech startups to grow their businesses. The selected start-ups are all women-founded/run businesses focused on innovative technology including AI, VR, fashion tech, fintech, health tech and agricultural tech.
“Plexiglass was conceived as a way of arming women in business with the connections and support they need to succeed, as well as celebrating diversity in the tech industry.”
Startups joining the programme include Dual Good Health, founded by Anna Stoilova, which uses virtual reality to train more people on how to save lives; Safe and the City, founded by Jillian Kowalchuk, a mobile app that uses AI, data analytics, and a smart city approach to build a navigation system that allows users to rate and alert which paths are the safest to take; and GrowUp Urban Farms, co-founded by Kate Hofman, which uses agtech to lower the environmental impact of agriculture by building and operating vertical farms that take unused urban space and use it to grow produce and connect them to local market.
Plexiglass was conceived as a way of arming women in business with the connections and support they need to succeed, as well as celebrating diversity in the tech industry; something that still needs improving. Latest figures from Chartered Institute of IT found that only 17% of UK IT specialists are female, 8% are disabled, and 21% are over 50. Each of the 12 companies selected for Plexiglass is London-based, with 42% situated in East London, not far from Plexal’s base at Here East in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Around half of the start-ups joining the programme are currently pre-revenue and have launched within the past two years.
During the eight-week programme, each start-up will receive free workspace at Plexal, which was designed as a mini-city, with its own high street, town hall, indoor park and Makers’ Yard. Plexal was founded by Claire Cockerton and clients of specialist real estate investment advisory company Delancey, and it is carefully curating a community of start-ups working in areas likes fintech, healthtech, cybersecurity the Internet of Things, AR, VR, AI and more.
Start-ups on the programme will also receive mentoring from the likes of Barclays (who are supporting the programme through their Eagle Labs initiative) and access to the Plexal and wider Here East community, which includes academic institutions such as UCL and London College of Fashion. The programme includes pitch training, founder fundamentals, go-to-market strategy, financing options, legal services and exit valuation. The start-ups will be able to meet fellow founders and clients from the big businesses that visit Plexal regularly and the eight-week programme will culminate with a pitch event to be attended by large corporations and prospective investors.
Founding editor-in-chief of FashNerd.com, Muchaneta is currently one of the leading influencers writing about the merger of fashion with technology and wearable technology. She has also given talks at Premiere Vision, Munich Fabric Start and Pure London, to name a few. Besides working as a fashion innovation consultant for various fashion companies like LVMH Atelier, Muchaneta has also contributed to Vogue Business, is a senior contributor at The Interline and an associate lecturer at London College of Fashion, UAL.