A new transatlantic powerhouse for technology startups has been formed through a merger between Cambridge and London based accelerator Springboard with the globally-acclaimed US mentorship-driven investment programme, TechStars.The inaugural TechStars London programme will launch in March. Jon Bradford, CEO and co-founder of Springboard, said the merger would not affect the 2013 Springboard IoT – but a decision on 2014 would be taken depending on the success of this year’s venture.
As Bradford reveals in a guest blog on Business Weekly’s site today, he and TechStars CEO David Cohen have been exploring the potential to work together for some time. He told Business Weekly: “This will have no impact on the Springboard IoT that is due to kick off in about four weeks time. Alumni of Springboard will be absorbed into the TechStars alumni and will be allowed to participate in their events and I hope will ultimately benefit from being part of the wider network. Depending upon the results of Springboard IoT we will decide what will happen to it in 2014.”
The March launch of TechStars London will be the American accelerator’s first ever sortie into the UK. Its venture into Britain has been hailed by the UK government, right to Downing Street level, and was announced at No.10 today. Speaking from No.10, Cohen and TechStars general partner Mark Solon
confirmed the expansion beyond the US through the merger with Springboard.
TechStars London is expected to support up to 20 start-ups annually across the UK, Europe and further afield through an investment of €85,000, comprising €15,000 of seed funding and an optional €70,000 convertible debt note for each company.
TechStars already has a strong track record working with European teams, with alumni including Memrise (UK), GrabCAD (Estonian) and docTrackr (France) who have cumulatively raised €16m of investment funds.
The Americans’ move on London comes just two years after Tech City Investment Organisation (TCIO) was set up by the Coalition Government to help attract inward investment and make London the digital capital of Europe.
It also highlights the continued benefits of the introduction of policies designed to make the UK the first choice for entrepreneurs and investors, including tax relief for the creative sector and Entrepreneur Visas.
Cohen said: “We’ve had our eye on the burgeoning London tech scene for some time, well aware the US doesn’t have a monopoly on either tech skills or entrepreneurship. The current business climate here means we can work with an incredibly broad spectrum of British and international teams and top talent. Merging with Springboard will allow TechStars to deliver great results both for start-ups and investors.”
Bradford added: “Coming together with TechStars makes perfect sense. Springboard and TechStars have long had a natural affinity, not least because of our shared mentor-led approach. Bringing their expertise to London can only be good news for tech start-ups in the UK, Europe and beyond.”
TechStars, founded in 2006, is backed by over 75 different venture capital firms. It offers programs in seven locations: Boulder, Boston, New York, Seattle, Chicago, London, and a Cloud infrastructure program in San Antonio. TechStars says it offers the same successful model and resources to corporations such as Nike and Microsoft as “powered by TechStars” programs.
The UK’s Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries, Ed Vaizey MP, said: “I am very pleased that TechStars has chosen to establish in London. We are putting in place the policies to help companies grow and help them get access to the finance they need. TechStars is an important addition to the sources of funding for companies. The UK's technology sector is full of creative, skilled, people setting up, and working in companies that can grow quickly and be the equal of any other in the world.”
Applications for TechStars London open on March 16 to compete for one of 10 places on the programme. To apply for a place on TechStars London visit www.techstars.com
• PHOTOGRAPH SHOWS: Springboard co-founder and CEO, Jon Bradford