Fintech accelerators are becoming physical as well as virtual communities
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25 October 2013David Easthope
I recently visit Level39 in London's Canary Wharf. Level39 is a new breed of fintech accelerator and is a fascinating place which offers subsidized workspace for start-ups in Canary Wharf, allowing for better access to bank and financial services executives and resources including meeting rooms, a large auditorium, and (yes this is important!) even great coffee/cookies. They have good momentum and support from the financial community and government policymakers in the UK. Level39 does not take equity stakes in the companies it attempts to accelerate. Fintech accelerators have been around for a little while now, but they still feel new and are constantly evolving their models. We see these accelerators as part of the broader private capital markets industry that is currently undergoing a renaissance. These accelerators are making it easier for young, innovative companies to find capital, partners, clients (for proof of concept), mentors and a broader community of support. While some of the accelerator functions are replacing what happens in everyday life with technology. I.e. Meetup groups and LinkedIn, other functions are far more transformative for these accelerators. Importantly, the new breed of accelerators are taking it a step further and creating entire physical communities as well as virtual ones. Virtual communities are great, but sometimes it takes a chance meeting, a coffee, or an in-person formal meeting in an office to see that these new tech firms are for real and have real solutions ready to address real problems. As an independent platform with a relationship with Canary Wharf, Level39 appears to be one of the more interesting and well supported of these new physical communities to support fintech innovation across a broad swath of financial services (not just a single firm and not just Securities & Investments).