Interview With Eric Van der Kleij – Profile, Background – London Tech City, Level 39 Part 1 in partnership with Groupe INSEEC London presents: A Beyond Solutions Boardroom Interview with Eric Van der Kleij, founder of Fintech Hub Level 39, tech entrepreneur and CEO of

The 3D FinTech Challenge is the next FinTech accelerator programme to be held at Level39, sponsored by French software house Dassault Systèmes, and will focus on the visualisation of client data within the Financial Services sector. Level39, Europe’s largest accelerator space for FinTech and Retail-Tech companies has as its sole ambition, the fostering of disruption and innovation in the financial, retail and smart city industries which utilize the Internet of things.

With plans to see the estate at Canary Wharf evolve into a true Smart City, part of Level39’s strategy is to encourage “Future Cities” start-ups, to experiment with visualisation tech and to merge this data together with Canary Wharf Group to create ‘Future Cities “Data clouds”.  InsiderTrends has written a piece about Eric’views on piloting retail tech at Canary Wharf here.

Commenting on the recent partnership, technology entrepreneur and Head of Level39 Eric Van der Kleij said, ”We’re delighted that international companies of the calibre of Dassault Systèmes recognise that London and Level39 is the place to develop their growth strategies”. Canary Wharf has three busy shopping centres and well over 100,000 office workers commuting daily. These factors make it the ideal laboratory to experiment with new retail technologies, which can include payments, an area of Fintech that is seeing a lot of recent innovation.

Level 39 has been a hit with FinTech start-ups period. Eric has been quoted in the press as saying “Level 39 is not a copy paste of Silicon Roundabout,” rather the facility caters for Future Cities tech superstars. It is the result of the efforts of the Canary Wharf Group to penetrate and influence the start-up world. What do startups get from Level 39’s membership?  Most benefit from an impressive events calendar, access to leading mentors, corporations and investors, and of course the strategic location goes without saying: a single floor of One Canada Square with impressive views which in turn inspires its occupants and shares its design traits with facilities of both Google and Facebook.

Level39’s layout has been designed in ‘tech industry’ style by renowned architects Gensler, who have worked on some of the world’s most exciting workspaces. It includes a modern reception area visually reflecting the technological innovation taking place at Canary Wharf and an exclusive set of ‘sandboxes’ which will enable accelerator programmes, software engineers and builders of financial services platforms to refine, test and showcase their financial technology products in a safe, ring-fenced environment.

Location aside, Eric touches on a valid point in the interview and it has to do with the experience. It takes a special individual to risk it all, and while success is not guaranteed, the experience gained from the initial venture is invaluable and is that which most needs to encouragement and nurturing not only from the Government but from the Media as well. Eric suggests that we think of Level 39 as the hub which harnesses this valuable commodity. If a startup is not initially promising, hopefully savvy founders will realise – or be advised –  when it is time to pivot.  Martin Zwilling, writing for Forbes, puts it best:

“The popular view of a real entrepreneur is someone with a big vision, and a stubborn determination to charge straight ahead through any obstacle and make it happen. The vision part is fine, but successful entrepreneurs have found that the extreme uncertainty of a new product or service usually requires many course corrections, or “pivots” to find a successful formula”.

Eric Van der Kleij Biography

Eric Van der Kleij is a technology entrepreneur and an entrepreneurship and technology cluster adviser, most recently appointed Special Adviser to the Canary Wharf Group in London to help further develop the group’s TMT and Financial Technologies strategy. At Canary Wharf he has created the strategy and plans for “Level39” Europe’s largest Financial Technologies (Fintech) accelerator space, occupying the entire 39th floor of 1 Canada Square, the main Canary Wharf tower.

Prior to that he was Chief Executive of the UK’s Tech City Investment Organisation, where he was appointed in February 2011 to boost investment, entrepreneurship and skills in the “Silicon Roundabout” area of East London. He continues to take a strong interest in Tech City and serves on the Advisory Board.  Previously in 2009, Eric was appointed Chief Adviser to UK Trade & Investment’s Directorate for Investment, the UK’s principal Inward Investment and Trade organisation with over 150 offices and embassies in over 90 countries.

Prior to taking up this role in 2009, he spent the previous six years creating the strategy and establishing the UK Government’s Global Entrepreneur Programme.

Before his work for the UK government, Eric was a pioneering technology entrepreneur having founded his own Fintech company Adeptra, and developed the automation of credit card fraud alerting and collections. He created the business and raised seed, angel and venture capital of $40M and expanded the business to the US.  Adeptra was sold in August 2012 to NYSE listed FICO.

About the Beyond Solutions series

Produced by IntelligentHQ, hosted by Groupe INSEEC London and presented by Daniel Steeves, Beyond Solutions is a “mostly pitch-free” environment: discussions will necessarily include product and company references but, hopefully, used to illustrate rather than to sell.

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