The Start-Up

Meet the driving force behind the Here East innovation centre

The boss of Here East, Gavin Poole, tells Andy Martin about the ethos – it’s all about creative cross-pollination

Wednesday 04 August 2021 21:30
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<p>Jump starter: Gavin Poole, chief of Here East, was inspired to join the RAF by Harrier jets as a boy</p>

Jump starter: Gavin Poole, chief of Here East, was inspired to join the RAF by Harrier jets as a boy

They call it the Hackney Riviera… what used to be the London Olympics Media Centre in Stratford, east London, is now Here East – the “innovation centre”, not a “science park”, as Gavin Poole, its chief executive and driving force, emphasises. People come here to dream up the future.

The ethos of this place is all about creative cross-pollination and osmosis. Poole says: “The value is in being there.” Over the course of the past year or so, it never closed but it has, inevitably, been under-populated. At the lowest point of the pandemic, there were a maximum of 63 people on the site. On the sunny day I went, the numbers were back up to 1,500. In the autumn, 3,000 are expected.

The restaurants (vegan, veggie and the defiantly carnivorous Randy’s Wing Bar) along the banks of the canal were all open and buzzing when I was there. As were the spa and the barber’s shop and the 1980s-themed video arcade.

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