Want rent-free office space in London's new smart city?

A new initiative to lure Irish firms to the UK...

Want rent-free office space in London's new smart city?

Picture by Tim Ireland AP/Press Association Images

Telecoms provider Magnet Networks is offering 10 Irish companies free office space in London's new "smart city", which is being developed in the area around Wembley Park. 

The successful firms looking to expand into the UK capital will pay no rent for four months and have access to "the fastest connection available, direct fibre optic connections from Ireland to their London desks and access to one of the largest internet of things and smart city test beds in the world", according to Magnet chief executive Mark Kellett. 

Magnet is working in partnership with Enterprise Ireland to select the initial 10, with the hope that it will act as a starting point and that further opportunities for other Irish firms will follow. Companies can register at launchpadforlondon.ie.

Speaking to The Pat Kenny Show, Kellett said that it was open to any Irish business involved in the Internet of Things (IoT):

"Come on to our network and try our product in what is one of the most dynamic marketplaces in the world. If you cannot make it in London, you won't make it anywhere.

"From an entrepreneurial standpoint, we're saying that London is a fantastic place to grow your business.

"Whether these businesses are in Galway, Cork or Limerick, they're all connected and we can take them anywhere in the world.

"So we're saying to the smaller Irish businesses and those looking to grow, if you have the ambition and you have the desire, we're there to try and help you."

Kellett also said that his company's "BrEntry" campaign would help "open doors" to UK funders.

Enterprise Ireland's UK and northern Europe director Marina Donohoe concurred, calling it a "very exciting initiative".

She said:

"The UK is the largest export market for Enterprise Ireland companies and we don't see that [changing] for the foreseeable future.

"So there is uncertainty no doubt with Brexit but the UK still accounts for 37% of all Enterprise Ireland exports and it grew by 10% [in 2015]. It is still the fifth largest economy in the world, it's a growth economy...

"It is an uncertainty time but in a period of great uncertainty we can be quite certain of one thing and that is when Irish companies invest and commit to a physical presence in an export market it has a real positive consequence on their business in that market."

Donohoe also made the case that having a physical presence in a market is still vital.

"It does make a difference. An office address is one thing but ... having people on the ground, having the time and resources and being physically present to develop new relationships, to foster old ones, to build new business links, all of this is so [important]."

"It is vital for the face time," Kellett agreed, "to have a presence on the ground, to have credibility."

As for what a smart city consists of exactly, he painted a picture for listeners...