Urbano Network - Business networking events and community

Exchanging value, connecting communities, creating opportunities

Set up in 2011 by Co-Founders and Co-Directors Mark Herring and Caroline Brock, Urbano Network is an independent business networking community, connecting companies of all sizes and sectors from PLCs to SMEs, in London, the UK and beyond.

Urbano Network consists of different Communities: Build, Create-Media, Finance, Legal & Professional Services, People, Tech & Telecoms, UWACTE (Urbano Women In Architecture, Construction, Technology & Engineering) & Zero Carbon. 

Urbano’s focus is to help our members and those that represent them to connect, engage, and find new business opportunities. All events on our diverse calendar are primarily designed as catalysts to connections for our members, but also to introduce non-members to our events and the community, alongside the chance to hear from our speakers. 

We have a proud record of championing issues such as zero carbon and sustainability, diversity and inclusion, workplace wellbeing and new technology – and often before others - because we believe this gives SMEs a platform as specialists to showcase themselves to larger companies and offer approaches and services not found in the corporate world. 

We are also pro-active and motivated, making introductions outside of events between members where we see value. We also offer a range of member services, including Tenders & Opportunities Notices.

A note about sustainability
In 2002, Mark helped create the Shoreditch Business Network and was responsible for the engagement and growth strategy of the organisation. This included finding a way to get new businesses to the area - predominantly from new sectors like media, digital and tech, to meet each other. This means creating events that were relaxed, informal and even fun to attend, but with a serious intent. To help these early-stage companies and those that ran them to have conversations. From these conversations all sorts of opportunities are created, but without them, nothing will flow.

This cross-sector community grew the brand of Shoreditch. At the time, Shoreditch was seen as the home of printers and property companies. We needed to find ways to bring diverse companies together. Now we are in an age of silos. Large companies and organisations only speak to other large companies and organisations (have you tried to get in touch with government? Good luck.). CEOs only want to meet CEOs. Now, when we say sustainability, we mean construction. Those in sustainability only want to meet those who they can help through their services.

Urbano's version and vision of sustainability is based on the UN's Sustainability Goals. Note, Climate Action is Point 13. Ending poverty and hunger are Points 1 & 2. Creating sustainable communities is Point 11. This is what we mean by Sustainability and what we try to do through Urbano: 

What we do
Urbano hosts a diverse calendar of events (online from March 2020) all based on the belief that most business opportunities come from an introduction and conversation. Our own regular converations with members show that opportunities from the past year have predominantly come through relationships which were started through networking in the months preceeding lockdown.

Image: Urbano Networking Breakfast in the City hosted by Devonshire Club discussing implications of Brexit (businesses are always optimistic!)

At the heart of Urbano is a networking philosophy gained through 15+ years of connecting - and working within thousands of different companies since our senior management team – Mark Herring and Caroline Brock - brought their Talent Lab communications agency knowledge and corporate experience to the nascent networking scene in early 2000’s. We call this value exchange.

Mark Herring, Founder of Urbano, has worked within the Media, Finance, Transportation, Hospitality, and Environmental sectors delivering brand and communication projects for a range of clients including Alcatel, Royal Mail, Lloyds Bank, FirstGroup plc and numerous SMEs. Caroline Brock, Director at Urbano, spent over 15 years leading the work winning team at AECOM (and acquired companies) delivering tenders and proposals for engineering, planning, and environmental contracts. This unique insight means our directors understand the issues and the networking aim for each business that comes to an Urbano event.

Creating social and economic value through our events and weekly tenders service

Urbano is a Talent Lab Production and as Urbano has grown, so has our reach and social impact. We don’t believe in sectors of business. We know that every company has to be helped to make a profit and that new business is the primary value that businesses seek to find through networking, we also believe each company has a responsibility to the environment, our planet, its employees and to each other.

Image: Urbano Speaker & Networking Breakfast featuring Katie Wood at Arup focusing on healthcare, health and wellbeing

The Social Value Act - which came into force in 2012  requires public authorities to have regard to economic, social and environmental well-being in connection with public services contracts; and for connected purposes. From an economic stance, the Government has also pledged to spend £1 in every £3 by 2020 (hopefully this pledge will continue indefinitely).

Before the Social Value Act came into force – and the Government pledge – Urbano has long promoted engagement between companies of similar or different sizes and specialities to explore potential avenues to new business but also to open up supply chains. Our weekly distribution of live private and public  tenders - from creative agency rosters to architectural competitions, workplace design to conference venues – demonstrate our support for our members and their own local economies. We also offer workshops and consultancy to further help members meet the challenges of bidding and win more business often denied companies with brilliant skills and experience but lacking work-winning resources or tendering knowledge.

Creating value through networking and making new connections

Value exchange is what we encourage at every point of contact between our members and other networking event attendees.  No-one knows what each connection can bring to each other and what is most valuable is constantly changing. It may be the need for a new contract for one, or a critical piece of advice for another. It may be finding the right talent to take a company into a new area, or the funding to turn an idea into a viable product.

Image: Urbano Build Speaker & Networking Breakfast.

At Urbano we have witnessed how value can change over time and something that may seem worthless becomes invaluable only with the benefit of hindsight. However, by starting with an open mindset – across all levels of the business – we all stand the chance of creating more opportunities, becoming more informed, and more inclusive as a society.

Creating a diverse and inclusive network at all levels

Urbano’s speaker events programme has a proud track record of exploring and championing issues affecting business, often before they become mainstream, and from a stand-point of finding opportunities for smaller firms to work with larger ones as we feel both benefit. This includes diversity, sustainability, new technologies and their usage, such as BIM and VR, accessibility, environmental, BREAAM, supply chain transparency, site safety, workplace and wellbeing, design, modern materials, M2M/IOT and crowdfunding etc. 

Image: Urbano Speaker & Networking Breakfast featuring Jacqui Glass on Sustainability.

Happily, around 50% of any Urbano event audience is female, many running their own companies or with senior positions at larger companies, and we aim to have at least 90% of guest speakers are also female to match our agenda for true change within business. Our Founder – Mark Herring - leads the speaker programme and has been instrumental in making this happen. It is our belief that if we are to truly inspire, we have to lead by example – be seen, be approachable and be engaged.


Creating a new way of working together for a better society

SMEs are a vital ingredient for a healthy market economy and represent 99% of the total number of businesses across the UK. They are responsible for large contributions to value added and employment. Most of these businesses are agile, efficient and driving innovation, particularly next generation leadership, the circular economy, and digital transformation. 

Image: Link to London Networking Podcast by Urbano

Urbano is a small, agile and constantly innovating business ideally positioned to help larger companies truly deliver on their own endeavours to drive economic and people wellbeing and the aims of the social value agenda.

Our engagement is driven by a desire to create fair opportunities not impacted by procurement restrictions, funding criteria or social exclusion.  Our Director – Caroline Brock – also a Social Value Practitioner and members of Social Value UK - has first-hand experience in how this has impacted on tendering for public sector contracts and how much there is still to improve – particularly SME supply chain engagement and transparency, independent non-biased partnerships, and schemes that do not deliver the desired outcomes due to lack of routes to business engagement. Urbano can provide both the map and the means to arrive at any project with B2B business engagement at its core.



Mark Herring - Founder & CEO of Urbano Network

Image: Urbano Speaker & Networking Breakfast featuring George Clarke - TV Architect & Founder of MOBI, facilitated and led by Mark Herring, hosted by Saint Gobain Multi Comfort Visitor Centre

As Creative Director and MD of Talent Lab Ltd, Mark worked with a variety of clients, from PLCs to SMEs, on branding, marketing and communication projects. 

His work has included growing Shoreditch Business Network, creating and developing Business Junction before creating Urbano Network and, more recently Brialto - an online business network platform for event managers and network organisers.

Mark trained as a theatre director and use the disciplines of theatre in his work as a consultant to help clients with their branding, marketing and communication strategies and increasingly networking strategies, helping them deliver bottom-line growth. These have included a £1M+ brand development programme, marketing/brand skills workshops, presentation training, script writing and directing of corporate videos, event hosting and even comedy. 

Mark also specialises in helping companies and individuals develop an effective networking strategy for themselves or their staff. He has developed a Strategic Masterclass and training package that helps addresses networking as a seamless part of the marketing mix, having delivered 1,000 events and facilitated connections between thousands of people and companies.

Caroline Brock - Director, Urbano Network

Image: Tendering Workshop delivered by Caroline Brock, Urbano Network in collaboration with Tony Cross, Empiric Partners LLP hosted by Accelerator London 

Caroline is a Director at Talent Lab Limited and leads the memberships, sponsorship, marketing at Urbano alongside tender consultancy support for companies across all sectors.

Caroline prepares the weekly tender digest at Urbano giving members access to relevant open public tenders and opportunities within the network with supporting advice and facilitation for consortia/partnering. This builds on her previous marketing and work winning lead experience with roles held in the build/engineering sectors (more recently AECOM). She runs regular open tendering workshops and provides tender support consultancy to SMEs.

Caroline is also the lead for our dedicated community and events programme for UWACTE (Urbano Women in Architecture, Construction, Technology & Engineering) and Women in Business.

She is also a Social Value Practitioner and Member of Social Value UK, supporting the aims of the Social Value Act to help companies improve their social, economic and environmental wellbeing in the communities they serve. 

Urbano Support Team

Urbano is a lean and agile organisation. Our success in delivering a diverse programme would not be achieveable without thefantastic support team of our web development and data management experts, roster of event hosts and venue partners.

We are proud to have established relationships with a roster of regular business event hosts and long term supporters of Urbano. Their individual experience in events management, executive management and extensive connections – and the fact that they are just lovely, helpful and fun individuals – make them the ideal Urbano network hosts.


"Well organised with tools and tips you can actually use."
"it was excellent, very useful."
"I came out of the session with thoughts on how I currently approach networking events and what I can change and do to get more out of them. I also found Mark's knowledge and passion for networking infectious."
"Very useful and enjoyable."
"Really enjoyed the pace and content of the workshop!!"
On Mark's Networking Masterclass


"I loved the event, your energy and enthusiasm and the great audience!
Ann-Marie Aguilar, Director of Operations, International WELL Building Institute 

"Mark invited me to talk at an Urbano event and I am delighted that I agreed to do so. The edgy Hoxton Apprentice venue was jam packed with like-minded dynamic individuals networking, sharing ideas and fostering mutually beneficial business opportunities. I met some incredibly interesting people from a number of diverse sectors who I very much look forward to working with in the future."
Lucinda Bruce-Gardyne, Founder of Genius Foods Ltd.

"It was a pleasure to attend the event and to hear about the issues of businesses in London first hand.  It was an excellent networking event and I was very pleased to be able to have so many one on one conversations on some very different but equally important issues.  It was a very helpful event for me and informed my thinking on the policy issues I am raising with ministers."
Anne Marie Morris, MP (Chair of All-Parliamentary Business Group)

"I was a guest speaker at an Urbano People breakfast. It was great to speak to an audience who were both knowledgable about and engaged in the subject, unafraid to ask questions and keen to pick up the threads afterwards. Convivial and focused networking in a relaxed setting."
Graham Snowdon, Editor of The Guardian Work Supplement

"I have a lot of time for Urbano, especially the Urbano Build network. They have a philosophy of "exchanging value" that I find rather empowering. Urbano, run by the redoubtable Mark Herring, offers a safe facilitating vehicle brokering for opportunities for smaller companies to get involved, both with each other, and with larger partners. They champion the cause of the smaller, quality suppliers, especially in areas such as BIM, design and new technologies.  

I always learn something of real value when I'm with them. The companies Urbano brings together are real entrepreneurs - a creative and energising lot to be with."
Jackie Sadek, Chief Executive, UK Regeneration 


Urbano Network is a Talent Lab Production
Talent Lab Limited is registered in the UK. Company number: 04149198
Registered Office: Shackleton Court, 2 Maritime Quay London E14 3QF

Urbano Communities

  • Urbano Business

    Urbano is a connected business community, dedicated to helping our members build sustainable futures.

  • Urbano Build

    Networking community for those in architecture, construction, design, engineering, property, proptech, etc

  • Urbano Create

    A networking community for those in branding, marketing, communications, digital, TV, film, and related media and creative sectors.

  • Urbano Finance

    Urbano Finance- connecting those can help others seeking investment, funding and ways to make their money do better.

  • Urbano People

    Connecting those in the world of work - from leadership, HR and workplace design to culture, equality, diversity, inclusivity, & wellbeing.

  • Urbano Tech

    For those who work across the tech sectors, from digital and apps to hardware and software solutions

  • Urbano UWACTE

    Urbano Women in Architecture, Construction, Technology & Engineering

  • Urbano Host

    Bringing together those in hospitality, tourism, leisure, bars and restaurants, food and drink