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Occasional ramblings: Work, leisure, heart and lungs.

16 September 2016

Posted by Mark 8 months ago

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London’s edge has been found alive and well; in Birmingham

London's edge has been found alive and well; in Birmingham

Innovation happens at the edges.

London used to be edgy. There was always an area that was a bit rough, that you wouldn't take your parents to for Sunday lunch, where people with odd haircuts mixed with alcoholics (clearly these could be one and the same), and where drip-coffee shops sat alongside launderette and pawn brokers. But these areas at few and far between. It used to be the east end. When I lived in London in the very early 1990s you only went to Hoxton or Shoreditch for drugs, a fight or rough sex (sometimes all three together). Oh how things have changed. The thing about London is that there are no cheap places left anymore. There are no up-and-coming areas. They've already up and come.

What's this got to do with innovation? Well, those that have great ideas and no budget make more change than those who have big budgets and are struggling with ideas. The former can't afford to live and work in the centre; they find the edges. Economic edge. Social edge. Often geographic edge. But London has lost its edge. So too has New York and definitely Sydney. For Shoreditch see Brooklyn. So where do people go and live, work, and play when they are starting new things; when they've eschewed the comfort of a job, salary and healthcare?

Whilst it's understandable to cling to the reputation of cities like London the real edge has moved. It's now in elsewhere. It's in Margate, Bognor, Birmingham, Manchester and Glasgow (other cities and towns are available).

I was in Birmingham this week. A place I grew up 30 minutes away from. Now I live 30 minutes away in another direction. I can reliably inform you that the edge is well and living in Digbeth. The next ten years will see the relocation of innovation from the megacities to smaller regional hubs where play, success and even failure are cheaper; where talent is less uniform; where ideas have space to grow. This isn't in London, New York or Sydney.

If you want to find space and people to help you do things differently look for the edge. It's not where you expect it to be.

To learn how to create edge book a place on my workshop "Do Disrupt: Change the Status Quo or Become it" (ironically enough in London's East End) click here:  http://ow.ly/m1j1304el4p

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