A very special tenth anniversary edition of London Tech Week opened to sizzling temperatures and crackling excitement, with the mayor of London and the prime minister addressing a packed house at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre.
The overriding message for the capital was one of optimism. In the midst of a global economic downturn, the trajectory of the tech sector in London – and the wider UK – means there is much to be proud of and celebrate.
From AI to cyber and fintech to life sciences, UK tech is leading the way globally across several verticals set to define the next decade of economic growth and innovation. Moreover, the prime minister reaffirmed the UK’s “open for business” status, and its credentials as a place to start and scale a tech company, particularly in terms of access to talent and record levels of investment.
Despite some recent criticism from senior industry figures that overregulation has made London less attractive, the numbers simply say otherwise. London has been the number one destination for global tech investment over the last decade, ahead of rivals in Europe and even New York and San Francisco, according to data released by London & Partners last Friday.
The figures showed more than 1,700 separate investment projects secured inward foreign investment since 2014, evidence of investors recognising London as a hotbed of innovative ideas. London’s tech sector has undoubtedly played its part in putting the UK on the map, and helped to redefine its economy too as other emerging innovation hubs spring up in cities around the country.
This all takes place despite ongoing challenges in the economic climate, a global tech downturn, and the aftermath of the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank UK, which shook the tech sector to its foundations. If not for the swift action of industry leaders, and close collaboration with the government, many of the UK’s most promising startups would have suffered, or worse, disappeared.
Thankfully, the sector demonstrated the pragmatism and resilience which has come to define it, and is now on much steadier ground for any further challenges which may lie ahead.
Indeed, it was fitting that HSBC’s ‘Innovation Banking’ launched today at London Tech Week. It’s a scheme focused on helping innovative businesses to compete globally and a marker of the next phase of growth for UK tech companies.
London leads the way in investment, boasts a thriving area of technological development, and continues to be a hub of innovation, despite challenging economic circumstances. This is all cause for celebration.
Tough times also present opportunities. The economic crisis in 2008 provided the backdrop for the explosion of the UK tech sector. A new generation of entrepreneurs broke through as people started to think creatively about solutions, and a new wave of companies, which are now at the heart of Britain’s economic strength and resilience, were born.
For London and the UK tech sector, the message on the opening day of London Tech Week was clear – there is much to celebrate, and the priorities of those in the industry for it to grow and flourish are aligned with the government’s vision.
Looking further ahead, the tech sector should take great encouragement from these early signs of recovery – with founders, innovators, government and regulators all on the same page, there is a real chance to sustain the current growth trajectory for London and the rest of the UK.