More than 200 aspiring entrepreneurs from underrepresented communities will get support with their small and micro businesses through three innovative and inclusive new affordable workspaces for the tech and digital sector.

Islington Council has appointed co-working and small business experts Town Square Spaces Ltd (TownSq) to run the affordable workspaces for Islington residents with bright ideas and business ambition – particularly women and those from Black or minority ethnic backgrounds – at 160 Old Street, the nearby White Collar Factory building and 250 City Road.

As part of its ground-breaking partnership with the council, in lieu of paying rent, TownSq has committed to deliver a range of initiatives that will nurture local entrepreneurs and support new, diverse tech and digital businesses in the area.

Cllr Asima Shaikh, the council’s Executive Member for Inclusive Economy and Jobs, said: “We are determined to continue building a more equal Islington where everyone, whatever their background, has the opportunity to reach their potential, contributing to a strong and inclusive local economy that works for local people.

“Fairness, social justice and sustainability guide everything we do – including our innovative affordable workspace programme, which is gathering pace and has already delivered more than £1 million of social value for Islington’s residents, businesses and communities.

“Town Square has a strong track record of providing affordable workspaces and meaningful, effective business support for marginalised and underrepresented communities.

“Together, we will ensure that hundreds of residents who face barriers to success can make the most of the professional guidance, mentoring, networking opportunities and desk space they need to turn great ideas into brilliant businesses in the thriving tech and digital sectors.”

Jamie McGowan, Community Director of TownSq, said the new space and the support that comes with it would help people seeking something new.

He said: “We’re delighted to have been appointed as operators and have some exciting plans for the space. We’ve already begun engaging with local people, drawing up plans to create a welcoming community of start-ups and small businesses.

“There’s a huge amount of potential in Islington and we aim to offer a vibrant space and support for the individuals and small teams looking to grow something of their own. The way people work is changing and so the way we offer workspaces must change with it.

“When people from different backgrounds, businesses and industries are working alongside each other, there is a sense of shared purpose and support, which can lead to some incredible collaborations. When you create the environment for individuals and businesses to grow, that ripples out to the benefit of the wider community and the local economy. We can’t wait to get started.”

The three venues will provide low-cost space for more than 200 fledgling businesses to set up and work, with a range of affordable and flexible memberships available. The focus will be on Islington-based tech and socially-focused businesses that are 18 months old or less, including those set up by individuals from underrepresented groups such as women and Black and minority ethnic communities.

In a progressive first, 12desks will be reserved specifically for people graduating from the LIFT programme, a unique four-borough, £7.4 million partnership led by Islington to ensure underrepresented communities are equipped with the skills and knowledge to access their fair share of the business support opportunities on their doorstep in the thriving technology, science and digital sectors.

The LIFT graduates will have their workspace costs fully-funded for the first 12 months – which includes free guidance and business mentoring.

TownSq will also run an after-hours ‘start-up club’ support programme aimed at helping local people start and grow a business, which is accepting applications now and starts next month.

The workspaces have been fitted out using furniture donated by the council and local architects’ firm BDP.

For more information, see www.townsqislington.co.uk

 

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