The 6th Floor of 2 More London Riverside, between London and Tower Bridge affords some of the most spectacular views of the Capital – high enough to give a commanding perspective of the city’s landmarks in all their glory, low enough to spot tourists on the deck of the HMS Belfast, and yoga and dance classes taking place outside City Hall while children play in the nearby fountains.
The perfect spot then to house TravelTech Lab, a co-working space, set up by London & Partners, the Mayor of London’s official promotion company, and The Trampery, one of its best known co-working spaces, with the aim of “fostering innovation, collaboration, and creativity, and bringing together technology start-ups with big corporates within the travel industry.”
London & Partners, who also occupy the floor, run partnership programs with more than 600 of London’s leading tourism businesses, making them the perfect neighbours for aspiring disruptive start-ups aiming to recast and reinvent tourism for the digital age.
But TravelTech lab is about more than just access to some of the industry’s biggest players and a stunning view.
The workspace is fully staffed and serviced, offers 24/7 access, high-speed internet, a kitchen – and coffee, of course, as well as a structured programme of events covering all aspects of the travel tech industry, often featuring notable guest speakers.
Innovative companies of all shapes and sizes are welcome, from social platforms, to restaurant booking apps, seat pricing algorithms, or even AR and VR plays – as long as the company has the potential to in some way enhance the experience of a traveller, somewhere on the surface of the planet.
TravelTech Lab exists in part because of its partner relationships, with Sabre, the connected global travel ecosystem, Dtec, and the Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority.
Currently there are more than 30 start-up members, all at various stages of development.
Esplorio, a ground breaking desktop or smartphone app co-founded by Essa Saulat,Tim Fernando and Sean Pham that allows people to record and share their travels by seamlessly integrating with social media sites like Facebook and Instagram, recently raised £200k from the European Space Authority and some angels, have leveraged the lab’s connections to work on building partnerships with some big corporate names.
Edge Retreats is a luxury holiday guide and bookings site founded by former travel journalist Luke McCormick, who recently completed a $1m funding round led by VC Lean Investments and existing investor Forward Partners; Beach Fix, founded by one of Markit’s earliest employees, Nishul Saperia helps users discover the perfect beach for them, and Photospotland, a start-up that began in Italy, connects anybody with a passion for travel and photography, helping them learn how to take the perfect travel shot.
These are just a few of the start-ups that makes TravelTech Lab a special place to be, but membership is not a given – those looking to join the space are required to complete a comprehensive entry form explaining who they are and what they do, and can expect to be interviewed before being granted permission to move in. In this way, companies are vetted to ensure the integrity of the space is maintained.
There are several different forms of membership; Full-Time, Associate, with drop-in access, or remote “Virtual” membership for those unable to travel into Central London on a regular basis.
A recent visitor to the space, Hugo Burge, the CEO of Momondo Group (owner of CheapFlights) and Co-founder and partner of HOWZAT Partners, was suitably impressed.
“The buzz, energy, and – frankly – pretty cool space makes it a great place to visit”, he commented.
Another Travel Tech Lab founder sums it up rather neatly; “there are two ways to get partnership for an early stage start-up; you can go and knock on loads of doors or you can go through London & Partners and get straight in the front door”, says Alex Grant, founder of TourioCity.
Not a bad option. Not a bad space. And a decent selection of ambitious, disruptive, start-up companies, knocking on the door.
Almost enough to take your mind off your next holiday.
There are 30 desks available in total, and to date, TravelTech Lab’s members have raised £4.3m in funding.