London Tech Week role heightened as London needs a showcase to give clarity amid Brexit haze
Not strictly fintech but worth a plug is London Tech Week. The annual tech event, in its sixth year will see over 200 events held right across the capital, during the week.
After all as part if it today (Monday 10 June) will see the launch of the Fintech Alliance, which was announced in April by the Chancellor of the Exchequer at Fintech Week. The aim of the Fin tech Alliance is to create a go to place for anyone that wants to know more about the UK fintech scene.
I caught up with Russ Shaw, the founder of Tech London Advocates and Tech Global Advocates to discuss this year’s event. Tech London Advocates is one of three founding partners of London Tech Week, alongside Informa and London & Partners, so there are few better paled people to discuss it with.
The main trade show is being held at Excel and a large number of events being held across London.
It all kicked off this morning at Here East on the Olympic Park. The technologies set to take centre stage, according to Shaw include fintech as well as what he described as “deep tech” covering technology like artificial intelligence (AI), data analytics and machine learning. He added there will also be events during the week covering healthtech, cybersecurity, blockchain, 5G as well as creative tech.
“We are going to be covering lots of tech verticals which for me is a reflection of the strength of the London tech ecosystem,” he said.
Beyond the tech itself, one area where London needs to ensure it focusses is ensuring there is enough talent to fuel potential growth. To this end there will be a lot of attention paid to this during London Tech Week.
“There will be events about how we can attract more overseas talent, which is more important than ever due to Brexit,” said Shaw. Professionals from EU countries will no longer have free movement into the UK after Brexit, which is already putting skilled people and investors off. Convincing them to continue to come and adding more people from outside the EU is necessary if London is to reach its potential.
And it is not just about numbers. Shaw said: “One on my main worries for out tech sector is whether we have enough diversity of talent.”
On Brexit he said that London Tech Week is important to help showcase what is going on in London as the current uncertainty about Brexit is confusing. “I was recently in Tokyo, launching Tech Japan Advocates, and there is a lot of confusion overseas about Brexit. I mean we are confused so imagine how people overseas feel?”
“But Brexit or no Brexit we have a really strong and vibrant tech sector,” added Shaw.
He said there is a large delegation of tech leaders from Japan, Singapore, Korea and Taiwan attending some events at London Tech Week. “We want to make sure we roll out the welcome and encourage them to think about expanding their businesses here.”
This focus on attracting international business is a sign of maturity for an event which started out with a tech startup focus.
“We still do a lot in respect with startups and we try and get more involved. But in the past few years it has grown in size and more international visitors come and see and feel what is going on here,” added Shaw.
When it comes to getting the message out “here”, in London that is, organisers want to showcase more of London itself involved. Shaw said he is keen to see all parts of the city involved and not just the usual suspects like Shoreditch.”
“London’s tech sector is all over the city and not just in Shoreditch, it is out in Stratford, the knowledge quarter in Kings Cross and Westminister. The event has spread all over the city which is something that has evolved over the years,” said Shaw.
Shaw suggested Theresa May, who is stepping down as Prime Minister, will be involved during the week.