London Tech Week opinion 3: The coming of age moment

With London Tech Week held recently various tech sector executives have kindly offered to provide their opinions of this year’s London Tech week.

Here are the opinions already published:

London Tech Week opinion 1: Incorporating diversity in your company

London Tech Week opinion 2: UK tech is more than just London

And below is the latest from Gavin Poole, CEO of Here East, looking at how the Tech London event has grown over the last six years. Now a grown up says Poole.

JUNE 2019: The coming of age moment for London Tech Week

By Gavin Poole

During the last six years, London Tech Week has been growing in momentum. From relatively humble beginnings with Boris Johnson and Michael Bloomberg crammed into a packed room at Central Working for the inaugural launch event, through to nearly 60,000 attendees in 2019. This year saw London Tech Week cement itself as one of the most prominent festivals to emerge in London, gaining the attention and commitment from international businesses and governments around the globe. This year, the week came of age.

During the week there was a rollercoaster of events taking place with some of the most prominent tech companies rushing to take part. The week saw CEOs and founders from the likes of PayPal, Strava, TransferWise and Slack as speakers and for the first time ever – the week was opened by the Prime Minister. On Monday, Theresa May took to the stage at the Opening Ceremony at Here East and used the platform to make a further commitment to tech, announcing £153m investment in tech and 2500 AI course places and 1000 scholarships across the country.

Never before has the government been so involved with London Tech Week, and the backing of the Prime Minister felt like a breakthrough moment for the festival as a whole.

British tech is adding more than £130bn to our economy every year and has become the fastest growing industry in the country. This level of growth is not driven just by investments into businesses themselves, but also into the enabling companies such as the £100m plus invested by Delancey into Here East and Plexal on the Olympic Park.  This sense of growth and ambition was truly captured throughout last week with prominent events such as CogX: the world’s first and largest AI summit. Government interest didn’t stray as Secretary of State for DCMS, Jeremy Wright and secretary of state for health and social care Matt Hancock spoke at the event.

Launching a consultation on a national data strategy, Wright announced new guidance on AI technology for public sector leaders. This highlights how London Tech Week is holding events which are facilitating change on an enormous scale.

The rest of the weeks’ events saw continued government interest as Bloomberg’s Tech Event saw the Chancellor of the Exchequer discussing the centrality of tech and business in the light of Brexit. He warned that while he doesn’t believe tech companies “will fly to Europe”, managing the country’s future data regulatory regime to be compatible with European regimes will be a challenge. Whilst there is no doubt that this is true, it’s hugely encouraging to see the government actively taking a stand and backing the tech sector.

This level of consistent government interest throughout London Tech Week proves the significance of the 300+ events taking place and for that, the partners behind LTW (London and Partners, London Tech Advocates and Informa Tech should be extremely satisfied.

The UK’s position as a global home for tech innovation is only set to grow and improve, something that the PM emphasised when she said she wanted “to make sure Britain stays the best place in Europe to launch and grow a start- up.” The talent at London Tech Week demonstrates why no other country on the continent generates more billion-dollar tech businesses than the UK.

As we take time to reflect on a week that saw ministers and governmental figures standing shoulder to shoulder with the most high profile tech entrepreneurs in London , the momentum and global significance of London tech was more apparent than ever before and there is no doubt that 2019 has been the year when the festival finally came of age and matched the success of the tech community it celebrates.

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