London Tech Week 2019 – Key things manufacturers need to take away
London Tech Week aims is to promote the capital as a global technology hub. Now in its 6th year, the event is fast becoming an annual highlight for manufacturers, with leading brands like Microsoft and IBM rubbing shoulders with exciting and innovative start-ups.
In total, 58,000 people attended this year’s event (10-14th June) - with AI, diversity and the impact of Brexit taking a central focus point. Theresa May was there to open the ceremony on the 10th June, stating that: ‘British Tech is growing over one and a half times faster than the rest of the economy, adding more than £130bn to our economy every year. Today as we sit on the cusp of the next great industrial revolution, we have the opportunity to work together and ensure that the advances we see transform our world for the better, and to the benefit of everyone.’
Now with the annual event over, SinoScan UK are reflecting on this years’ highlights and the key things manufacturers should take away from it:
1. The UK wants to be at the forefront of AI development
The UK has a real opportunity to emerge as a global leader in AI and machine learning and this was widely recognised at this year’s event. As part of London Tech Week, CogX took over Kings Cross to host their AI Summit – spanning an impressive 11 stages, with more than 200 exhibitors and attracting more than 10,000 attendees.
What’s more, £153million in government funding, with an additional £205million pledged by industry, has been dedicated to unlocking the potential of quantum technologies and more than 2,500 places were made available for the first time for AI and data conversion courses.
Facebook also announced during the week that it’s opening an engineering centre in London, which will create 500 new jobs - 100 of which will be dedicated solely to using AI to fight harmful content; demonstrating that global companies clearly have confidence in the UK’s AI capabilities.
2. Opportunities for everyone
Organisers of London Tech Week 2019 were all about diversity and encouraging future talent in tech this year. The government announced an investment of up to £18.5m to support efforts to enhance diversity in artificial intelligence (AI) and data science roles – with a large majority of this money going towards 1000 government-funded scholarships. The scholarships aim to help update the skills of those already working in tech, while also helping under-represented groups get into the industry; including women and those from minority ethnic or lower socio-economic backgrounds.
A 2018 report has shown that only 14.6% of the UK’s tech leaders are female and 70.5% have no BAME members at all, so this latest pledge from the government was received well by many.
3. London’s fintechs continue to grow
Two major London fintechs – Monzo and Revolut – announced plans to expand globally, demonstrating that despite continuing Brexit uncertainty, London’s fintech industry is still thriving. Monzo plans to launch itself in the US over the coming months, setting up their headquarters in the US; while Revolut has set its eyes on Australia with its strong tourism links to the UK.
4. Even more money will be invested in research & development
To keep up with the ever growing global competition, the government announced that it was launching a major study into tech competitiveness, to identify opportunities and support for digital businesses that ensure the UK remains the most attractive place to base a tech business. Industry partners for the study include Microsoft, CodeBase and Kobalt.
5. Brexit is still the elephant in the room
The UK has every right to boast about the latest tech innovations; however, there was no ignoring the elephant in the room – Brexit. Recent data from Tech London Advocates has revealed that one in four businesses have missed out on investment opportunities due to Brexit. However, despite this it’s encouraging to see big names are still investing in UK tech and the Chancellor was keen to assure business leaders that whatever happens, London will remain “one of the great destinations for tech and innovation over the years to come”.
So London Tech Week has offered many manufacturers fresh hope in the wake of ongoing economic uncertainty. Despite Brexit, stockpiling and wider global economic uncertainty affecting the industry, the future looks promising and it’ll certainly be interesting to see how the government’s pledges are affected by the political landscape over the next few months.