An invigorating London Tech Week

Rachel Gilley (@rachelgilley), MD, Bite London

London is open. That has never been clearer than during the fourth annual London Tech Week, a festival of live events across the city, showcasing and celebrating the best of tech.

London mayor Sadiq Khan opened the week by stating London’s commitment to global competitiveness and its status as a leader in innovation, dropping in that London tech firms have attracted more than £1bn in capital investment from tech companies — including Facebook, Google and Apple — since the EU referendum. Tech developers in London are on the rise, and one in 10 new jobs in the capital is in the tech sector. It feels like a good time to be doing what we do.

Get smart

What was particularly interesting was Khan expressing his desire for London to become one of the leading smart cities in the world, and revealing ambitious plans to tackle climate change with the help of tech startups. This included the introduction of a £1.6m incubator, designed to help 100 small businesses in the capital with funding to create low-carbon and climate-friendly technology.

It set a precedent for the week because it gave context to the tech on show; how could it be integrated into cities? How would it affect everyday lives for the better? Is it clean? London is not only attracting innovative tech in a business sense, but looking to embed it into its own city workings, with the likes of smart pavement (features at 22:20mins). If that’s not an endorsement, I don’t know what is.

Diversity is the spice of life

The week featured discussions on the potential of the VR and AR market (expected to reach $13.9 billion in 2017, an increase of 130.5% over the $6.1 billion spent in 2016, according to IDC) and whether artificial intelligence is being programmed to adopt a socialist world view — something certain UK politicians will delight in hearing about! These highlight the diverse nature of where tech is headed, and the wider conversations we need to have about it. We even heard about future Disney princess robots. Just when we thought we’d escaped Frozen, it sounds like we’ll soon have Elsa wandering around the house…

London Tech Week left me feeling invigorated. London is open to the best talent, with the most innovative, disruptive ideas. London is open-source, with collaborations breaking boundaries faster than ever before. London is open to people from all walks of life, to join one of the most multicultural cities in the world. London is most definitely open for business.

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