This year marks the 10th anniversary of the London 2012 Olympics Games, the legacy of which has helped to drive billions of pounds of investment and transform the heart of East London into a leading centre for technology and innovation.
The regeneration project spans sites such as the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, home to HereEast and Plexal, the East Bank project, as well as the neighbouring International Quarter London in Stratford. These sites have all successfully brought economic growth and tens thousands of businesses to the area in the technology, creative and mobility sectors – to name a few.
The legacy of London 2012 was embedded into preparations from the beginning and seen as once-in-a-generation opportunity to accelerate the regeneration of East London and create lasting positive impact. The results of this investment have been transformational, changing the face of the area and establishing a centre for fast-growth start-up and scale-up companies, bringing new economic opportunities to the local community.
In fact, a total of 40,000 jobs are set to be located at Queen Elizabeth Park by 2025 and a further 125,000 additional jobs estimated to be created by 2030 in the surrounding boroughs according to the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC). Most of the £9.6 billion investment in London 2012 was made in and around Stratford, creating all the right ingredients and infrastructure to become a world leading destination for business and innovation.
With the support of the London 2012 legacy programme, East London has seen further investment in areas such as retail and major events. This includes Westfield’s investment of £1.75 billion into the area creating more than 10,000 jobs at its flagship shopping district and the London Stadium bringing in additional spend through world class sporting events – such as £107 million from World Athletics Championships in 2017 and £37 million from Major League Baseball.
However, it is technology and innovation that has mainly driven investment over the last few years. Several projects including HereEast, East Bank, the International Quarter London (IQL) and the Good Growth Project offer prime examples of what has been successfully achieved and what are still set to continuously improve the area generating economic, cultural, and educational benefits.
The former Press and Broadcast Centres for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games is today Here East, which has built on the creative and entrepreneurial heritage of Hackney Wick to create a thriving innovation hub. In one of Europe’s largest innovation campuses, the 1.2 million sq ft site is home to start-ups and global companies, alongside universities, research and cultural institutions.
Here East houses three of the fastest growing clusters in the capital: esports, cybersecurity and the creative sectors. Among tenants is Plexal, Here East’s resident innovation centre and coworking space which has the aim of forging connections between industry, academia, investors, startups and scaleups. Plexal has helped around 72 startups raise over £270m through their LORCA cyber accelerator. It is also home to the Global Innovation Disability Hub – an accelerator designed to encourage the development of technologies to improve the lives of people living with disabilities, launched in partnership with University College London.
Other Here East tenants include Ford Smart Mobility, which designs, grows and invests in emerging mobility services and connectivity solutions, as well as BT Sport, Fiit.tv, Sports Interactive, Studio Wayne McGregor, MATCHESFASHION and The Trampery on the Gantry who provide 21 studios for local artists and designers.
According to independent research from Oxford Economics Here East has created over 10,300 employment opportunities, sustaining £317million in wages and contributing £700million in GVA towards GDP in 2021 alone. The data shows Here East’s impact on local communities and surrounding boroughs, revealing that a significant proportion (15%) of Here East’s UK based procurement is retained within the local area, creating jobs – nearly a quarter of Here East’s employees live locally – and powering local supply chains.
The Olympics legacy includes a £1.1 billion investment into East Bank, a culture and education powerhouse at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Spread across three sites at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, East Bank is at the heart of a growing cluster of commerce, technology, manufacture, retail, education and the creative arts delivering unprecedented new job opportunities in the digital age.
The East Bank is home to 5 world-class institutions including BBC, Sadler’s Wells, UAL’s London College of Fashion, University College London and the V&A – making it the largest culture and education district for a generation. The area contributes around £1.5 billion of economic value for the economy and has enabled the creation of around 2,500 jobs.
International Quarter London (IQL)
IQL is London’s most dynamic and innovative business neighbourhood home to industry leaders in engineering, arts and culture, medical research, international development, and financial services. It is already home to Transport for London, the Financial Conduct Authority, Cancer Research UK, Unicef, the Nursing and Midwifery Council, The Insolvency Service and shared workspace facilities, with the British Council also moving to the development in 2020.
As part of the Olympic legacy, Stratford’s connectivity significantly improved and is now one of the best-connected business districts in London, not to mention a champion of green transport and surrounded by an abundance of green space. IQL is also home to two WELL Standard buildings, which certifies that the built environment upholds health and well-being.
The Good Growth Hub
The Good Growth Hub, situated right in the heart of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, brings together people and businesses in East London to offer career opportunities, training and skills to 18- to 30-year-olds in and provide fresh new talent to local businesses.
The Good Growth Hub not only aims to deliver growth in the local economy, increase workforce diversity it also aims to be a beacon of best-practice for inclusive good growth by encouraging and supporting employers to deliver fair and inclusive work practices in line with the Mayor of London’s ‘Good Work Standard’. This includes developing and ensuring principles such as payment of the LLW as a minimum, and in doing so, providing opportunities to drive positive sectoral change around live challenges and issues.
Diversity and inclusion, accessibility, and sustainability
The Mayor of London has set out an ambitious mission for the capital to become a zero-carbon, zero-pollution city by 2030 and a zero-waste city by 2050. The projects that form part of the Olympic legacy programme supports these goals. As set out in London 2012’s bid, the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park is designed with sustainability at its heart helping businesses, residents, and visitors to live more sustainably.
Core ways in which this has been achieved is through the use of data and innovative technologies, the testing and showcasing of new approaches to living as well as creating an inherently biodiverse and sustainable district in London. An example of this is SHIFT, a new programme launched in 2022 and based on Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park – dedicated to powering better urban futures through everyday innovation and acting as London’s living testbed. SHIFT tackles the fundamental challenges facing cities today including climate change adaptation, wellbeing, and social justice.
From an environmental perspective, the legacy programme has achieved 25% reduction in corporate energy consumption since 2015 – targeting net zero for 2030. What’s more it has achieved the cleaning of around 6.5km of waterways and the creation of about 10 new wildlife habitats on park including wildflower meadows, woodlands and wetlands.
A blueprint for future Olympic legacies
The IOC also notes London’s regeneration commitments as a blueprint for other cities to follow, especially when it comes to driving creation of jobs, investment as well as developing educational and cultural opportunities. According to the International Olympics Committee (IOC) the economic impact of the Games on East London has been significant exceeding pre-Games growth projections three-fold, with a 40% growth in local employment and over GBP 400m investment into the area.
Quote from Laura Citron, CEO of London and Partners said: “It is fantastic to see how the 2012 Olympic games have helped to create such an exciting business landscape in East London attracting investment, talent and companies from all over the world. London is a leading global hub for technology and innovation and the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park has established itself as one of London’s top areas for start-up, scale-ups and multinational companies to grow and collaborate. I am looking forward to seeing how the area continues to open up exceptional opportunities for those who live, work and study in east London over the next ten years.”
Lyn Garner, Chief Executive of LLDC, said: “After 10 short years, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park is now a thriving new part of the city. World class sports venues sit alongside new homes and schools. Two incredible business districts at Here East and IQL are bringing thousands of jobs. Those entrepreneurs, tech start-ups and business leaders are joining the academics and creatives at the East Bank culture and education district to return east London to its roots as a place of innovation and making – this time with cleaner, greener and smarter technologies.”
Gavin Poole, CEO of Here East said: “Since Here East won the bid to transform the former international press and broadcast centre used during London 2012, we’ve worked hard to create a world class campus for the tech and creative industries. Ten years ago, our vision was to create a space dedicated to innovation and collaboration, and recent data shows we’ve surpassed what we set out to achieve.”
“We are now home to global companies, scaleups, tech and creative businesses and academics. Tenants can share expertise and skills with each other in turn creating opportunities that generate new jobs, revenue growth and more ventures. In 2021 alone, Here East’s activities supported close to 10,300 jobs across the UK, sustaining £317 million in wages and contributing £700 million in GVA towards GDP. We look forward to working with other organisations within the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park to ensure we continue to support local people and the economy in East London over the next ten years”.