Last week we held our Silicon Valley of South London event to fill the gap since Croydon Tech City’s founders closed the movement.

As Jonny and Nigel had eluded to as they signed off, the Croydon Tech City campaign is no longer, but we do have a growing number of tech firms here in Croydon and opportunities aplenty for local people. Sussex Innovation Centre in Croydon (SINC) hosted the event to draw attention to the exciting companies that we see come through our doors.

SINC set up in Croydon in 2015 with the intention of giving local people the confidence to scale their business and stay in the area. Many University of Sussex students originate from South London, so a strong economy brings employment opportunities for graduates.

Our evening started off with of Nick Fernando – Policy and research co-ordinator from Digital Catapult.

The Digital Catapult team had been at SINC for the day collaborating on a project with Croydon Council – they are working towards Croydon becoming a Smart City and have a project designed to improve air quality around construction sites. Good to know as we embrace Whitgift Centre and much of the city centre becoming a building site!

Nick spoke about the role of Digital Catapult to fuel digital technology’s early adoption across the UK. The technologies they work in are:

1. Artificial Intelligence
2. Future Networks
3. Immersive

Many of our members were interested in how their start up models could be bundled into the offering and growth accelerated. Watch this space for updates!

Our next speaker was SINC tenant Zakaria Mahmood. Founder and Managing Director of INTCAS – a global technology platform connecting students from across the world to work collaboratively with the global education industry to explore, design and build their careers using a single system. Zak spoke of the attention to detail he has paid over the past 7 years of pre-revenue development and the journey thus far to closing £4.2 million investment. It was a candid explanation of the vision, resilience and determination it takes to make something as disruptive as Intcas happen.

The stand out statement from Zak was his personal brand and his vision for ethics above all else. “Although any entrepreneur will know how emotional you feel towards your business and its growth, investors do not care!” he said. “Get the numbers right and maintain your ‘why’…then you really have your mission.”

Our last speaker was Mick Robins Co-director of Connected Space. Mick came to share his story as a company that has moved from Shoreditch to Croydon, and how that’s changed their business. Connected Space are co-creators of innovative technologies that deliver transformational change. When Mick and his co-founder Andy Poulter were travelling through East Croydon each day to their office in Shoreditch, they started to notice changes here in Croydon and then explored moving their team. They realised it was hard to standout in Shoreditch as there are so many companies doing similar things, by moving to Croydon they would not only reduce their travel time and rent fees, but stand out as a tech company making things happen. They moved here 2 years ago growing from a team of 9 to a team of 35 quickly by recruiting local people and have created a culture, desired by many – remembering that if people are giving up 45 hours of their week, they can offer a free 45 min Yoga lesson to their team!

The evening ended with drinks and talks about what do next…

We are working with Shaking Hands to promote a Roof Top party celebrating summer in Croydon. Join the Sussex Innovation team and members, along with Shaking Hands for an informal gathering later this month!

If you are thinking of moving your business to Croydon and would like an informal chat – drop me a line and let’s talk!

We regularly host events, and if you would like to know more about networking and community-based groups in South London, then follow this link to read about 7 of the Best London Meetups and Start-up Communities.