London's Knowledge Quarter: Five things you need to know
I’ve worked in King’s Cross for ten years and in that time it’s undergone an impressive transformation: major new transport links at St Pancras and King’s Cross, the opening of Central Saint Martin’s and pop-up activities like KERB street food market. By 2020 up to 50,000 people will be studying, living and working in King’s Cross and the population of Camden is expected to increase by 8% by 2023.
Most people have heard of 'Silicon Roundabout', 'Tech City' and 'Exhibition Road', but have you heard of the Knowledge Quarter? Or as it was recently described on Twitter: "the one mile radius of braininess." This week it was launched at the British Library by Chancellor of the Exchequer & MP George Osborne.
1. What is the Knowledge Quarter?
We have one of the leading clusters of innovation and research organisations in the world in King’s Cross, Euston Road and Bloomsbury - universities, science institutions, companies and start-ups. Two years ago, we started to think about how these organisations could be brought together under the banner of the ‘Knowledge Quarter’. There are lots of cultural quarters, but knowledge quarters are harder to find. The closest examples are the Science Parks in the US or Education City in Qatar.
2. What will it do?
Setting up the Knowledge Quarter has taken 24 months of discussion and consultation. Its goals are to raise the profile of the area and to attract more knowledge-based businesses to stimulate economic growth (it also helps that we’re next door to ‘Silicon Roundabout’). It will encourage knowledge exchange between its members and advise government on policy and respond to major initiatives like TfL’s cycling superhighway consultation, Wi-Fi coverage and apprenticeship schemes in Camden.
3. Who are its members?
So which institutions are included? You can see the full list on the KQ website which includes the British Medical Association, British Library, British Museum, Central Saint Martins, Guardian Media Group, RIBA, Royal College of Physicians, The Francis Crick Institute, Digital Catapult, UCL and the Wellcome Trust, to name a few.
Together, members of the Knowledge Quarter employ over 30,000 people, turn over more than £2bn, work with 3,500 volunteers, and serve more than 8m visitors annually.
4. How is it governed?
The Knowledge Quarter is governed by a Board of nine from different sectors to oversee direction, strategy and finance. It is backed up by a Steering Group of 36 organisations to advise the board and ensure that everyone is represented. Over the next year they’ll be addressing things like. And as you’d expect, the project is not without its challenges (all of which the Board and Group are addressing) like ensuring real social and economic change, finding adequate resource and backing.