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January 15, 2014

Oxygen Accelerator prepares to move back to Birmingham

The startup hub’s programme at Google Campus has come to an end.

By Joe Curtis

A startup accelerator is set to head back to Birmingham after its stint at Google Campus came to an end.

Eight early-stage firms pitched to investors at Oxygen Accelerator’s Campus offices in Shoreditch last night after three months spent on the accelerator’s programme.

Oxygen boss Simon Jenner said his firm, which moved to Campus in October, will hold its next programme in March back at Silicon Canal, the Birmingham startup scene, before returning to Tech City in October 2014.

"We’ll flip-flop between the two ecosystems," he told CBR, after Oxygen’s move to London last year made headlines questioning whether the capital’s allure was harming other cities’ startup scenes.

And Jenner admitted the capital has provided easier access to VCs.

"There’s more access although we did get quite a lot [of investors] coming to Birmingham," he said last night.

"It’s a case of ‘I’m here so actually I’ll fit around you’. Whereas when people would come a bit further afield you had to book meetings; you can’t fit in around them as easily."

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However, he said the cost of living has been prohibitive for people running startups.

"We don’t give them that much money, it’s survival money, but that actually doesn’t go very far at all in London. [It’s worth] double that outside of London."

The eight startups seeking investment of up to £750,000 cover a range of sectors including B2B, app development and authentication technology, and Jenner expects B2B innovation to represent a high proportion of the applications the firm will receive for its March intake.

Other trends he sees taking hold include wearable technology, lifestyle and health apps as well as big data, of course.

But before then he hopes to help his current crop of graduates achieve their funding aims.

"They are great, amazing, teams. I’d be surprised if the majority don’t raise investment," he said. "We’re going to be involved with these guys for years to come.

"It never ends. It’s like going to a great university; that alumni network is really, really good."

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