Canary Wharf to create hub for financial tech start-ups

By Paul Sandle

LONDON, Oct 1 (Reuters) - London's Canary Wharf business district, home to global banks HSBC, Barclays and Citigroup, wants to attract entrepreneurs with a new centre for technology start-ups focused on financial services.

Canary Wharf Group, the owner of the estate, said it was dedicating a floor of One Canada Square tower, the district's emblematic skyscraper, to give start-ups space to grow, as well as access to new customers, partners, talent and investment.

The Level39 initiative is being led by Eric Van Der Kleij, who promoted East London as a hub for Internet companies in his former role as head of a technology investment organisation.

He said London was already doing well in attracting start-ups, but more could be done for growing companies wanting high-quality office space.

"Our goal behind Level39 is to create a soft landing for the tech companies and entrepreneurs to really enter Canary Wharf and better connect them with some of the major financial services companies that are the natural inhabitants of this area," he said in an interview.

"For me, Fin-Tech (financial services technologies) should be London's birthright."

Van Der Kleij said Level39, which will open in early 2013, would complement rather than compete with Tech City, the hub that stretches from Old Street to the Olympic Park in East London.

Canary Wharf Group, which is majority owned by Songbird Estates , said earlier this year that it aimed to lure companies from the telecoms, media and technology sector as it looked to diversify its tenant base beyond banks and financial institutions.

(Additional reporting by Brenda Goh, Editing by Rosalba O'Brien)

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