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Exclusive: Eric van der Kleij departs Level39

Eric van der Kleij is stepping down as the head of Canary Wharf Group’s Level39 accelerator after just under three years in the job.

Van der Kleij, who also led Tech City UK during its first two years, is leaving to focus on his innovation consultancy ENTIQ.

Level39 is now on the lookout for a new, full-time employee to head up the organisation as it “grows into its next phase”.

Growth to date includes two new floors, High Growth Space 42 and High Growth Space 24, bringing total space within Canary Wharf’s One Canada Square tower to 80,000 square feet.

True to van der Kleij’s commitment on taking up the role back in October 2012, the accelerator has become home to almost 200 startup companies and has hosted more than 1,000 community events.

Its remit has also expanded from pure fintech to cover cyber security and smart cities via its Cognicity programme.

Current residents include digital footprinting startup Digital Shadows, big data company DataSift and bitcoin wallet Coinjar.

“Now that Level39 is an established ecosystem, I’m ready to refocus on developing our own business but will be working with Canary Wharf Group to find the best new leader for the strong team we have built up at Level39,” van der Kleij said.

He and his 30 staff will not have to move far as his consultancy firm already resides in Level39’s newest space on level 24.

ENTIQ, which was founded in 2013, is currently focused on using blockchain and distributed ledger technology in its lab.

Pre-Level39

Having been made the founding chief executive of Tech City UK, then Tech City Investment Organisation, after the project was unveiled by David Cameron in 2010, van der Kleij is credited with being the mastermind behind the success of ‘Silicon Roundabout’.

This includes schemes likes the roll out of the Entrepreneurs Visa, which enables highly-skilled migrants in shortage areas in tech to get around immigration rules.

After arriving in the UK from South Africa at age 15, van der Kleij set up early web telecoms company RealCall back in 1996.

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