Canary Wharf Group has appointed a former marine to lead its startup hub in the sky and diversify its tenant base

Ben BrabynLevel39Ben Brabyn is the new head of Level 39.

Canary Wharf Group announced on Wednesday that former marine Ben Brabyn has been appointed as the new boss of London startup space Level39.

Brabyn replaces Eric Van der Kleig, who is well-known in the London tech community for getting the Tech City initiative off the ground.

Level39, owned and operated by property developer Canary Wharf Group, specialises in fintech, retail, and future cities. It currently occupies the 24th, 39th and 42nd floors of One Canada Square, the UK’s second tallest skyscraper.

Through Level39, Canary Wharf Group aims to provide a “point of convergence” for startups, large technology companies and their client base in the banking, financial and professional services sectors.

Canary Wharf Group said Brabyn — a former captain in the Royal Marines, and JP Morgan analyst — will oversee the next phase of growth within the Level39 community, which currently includes 200 members, including fast-growing cyber security company Digital Shadows and big data company Datasift.

Brabyn will also be tasked with advising the Canary Wharf Group on how to strengthen Canary Wharf’s reputation as a tech hub.

Canary Wharf Group said Brabyn, who also worked as chief operating officer for the government’s UK Trade & Investment department, has an understanding of national policy and practical experience of entrepreneurship, which he gained through founding two digital businesses and mentoring via Microsoft Ventures.

HSBC Canary Wharf

A shot at night of the Canary Wharf skyline. The HSBC building is on the right

New tenants

The Group, which is in the midst of building the “New Phase” of Canary Wharf — a 4.9 million sq ft mixed-use waterside community to the east of the existing site, wants to diversify the tenant base at Canary Wharf.

The business district is home to the world or European headquarters of numerous major banks, professional services firms and media organisations including Barclays, Citigroup, Clifford Chance, Credit Suisse, Infosys, HSBC, J.P. Morgan, KPMG, MetLife, Moody’s, Morgan Stanley, and Thomson Reuters.

But for all the big names in finance, there aren’t many in tech. Google, Facebook, Apple, and Amazon all have their offices in other parts of the city. Canary Wharf Group hopes to change that.

Sir George Iacobescu, chairman and CEO of Canary Wharf Group, said in a statement: “Ben will play an important role in helping shape the next phase of Canary Wharf Group’s evolution as a diversified developer and landlord, helping us to create next-generation business locations, fused with technology and an attractive lifestyle to match.”

Brabyn said: “The technology sector is growing at a phenomenal pace and as a leading global centre for fintech and smart cities innovation, Level39 has an important role to play.

“I look forward to drawing on my international expertise to lead Level39 in this exciting new chapter, by growing existing members, welcoming new ones and broadening the ecosystem in the smart cities space.”

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