Last week was London Tech Week – a celebration of all things technology-related in London. We have been mostly heads down in full product launch mode as our third generation kettle will hit the shops imminently!
But we did get to attend the Europas, where we were up for the hottest IoT startup award. Sadly, we didn’t win. The award went to the excellent Relayr, which enables device manufacturers, app developers, and software companies to leverage the power of the internet of things.
The Europas showcased how open and diverse London’s tech scene is and it cements its place as a global technology leader. This is also emphasised by the growing size and success of London Technology Week overall.
In spite of the strange political times we now find ourselves in, there is an optimism about the industry. There remains a diverse and increasing workforce of international talent, a buoyant funding ecosystem and some key areas of tech for which London is known. These include madtech, fintech, AI and edtech. But to retain its position as an amazing place to do business and grow a business, certain things need to come into play:
Recruitment, retention, and skills transfer: Brexit and the fear of its potential implications have arguably made recruiting the right talent for the long-term more difficult. Not only do we need to recruit, but we also need to retain the brightest talent to grow businesses and transfer knowledge to others. The proposed cap on immigration is short-sighted. Technology knows no boundaries. Good techies can go anywhere in the world to work. It’s up to us to make London a place that they would like to be – not the other way around. We should also be mindful that we do live in a truly global world where people increasingly move around – and the need to retain knowledge to further develop the economy and productivity is vital. Ensuring good knowledge transfer and upskilling the future workforce is a task for both business and government. We can work together.
Tech hubs: We are increasingly seeing the rise of the hub in the industry. Station F in France has recently opened in Paris and the Factory in Berlin is another mega-startup campus. For our part in London we have three great spaces with Plexal (at Here East), Tech City Croydon and Rocketspace (in Angel). This is exciting because these spaces showcase the importance of collaboration and a maturing approach to the industry as places of investment, innovation and often, university collaboration and spin outs too, marrying different parts of the industry together.
Tech specialisms: It’s fair to say that tech changes all the time – it evolves and becomes ever more sophisticated. Our own products (hardware and software combined) experience regular software improvements and we’re on our third generation kettle in four years, with even greater functionality and third-party interoperability. This point returns to my first one about skills. London already has a great base in certain areas of the tech ecosystem and growing these will be of vital importance to ensure London continues on an upwards trajectory. Embracing our tech specialisms also means bringing larger, multinational businesses (eg: how banking has embraced fintech and how large law firms are beginning to embrace legtech) and startups together. There are accelerators, business builders and corporate innovators a plenty across the capital to help harness growth and skills and ensure this is achieved.
As a final point, our capital city has a good mix of ingredients to ensure sustainable success – not least the people. We can all go a long way to rally against the uncertainties that may be foisted upon us from the political system and continue to make our great city even greater.