Do you want to be a NETFLIX or a Blockbuster? Thoughts from London Tech Week 2018
It has been a vibrant, engaging and hectic week. 300 sub-events across London that attracted 55,000 participants from over 90 countries. It was an action-packed week, even though, compared to previous years and due to the multitude of events, the content was rather diluted. On Monday I attended disrupting technologies at The Collective, on Tuesday it was how harnessing new technologies can overcome urban challenges, and on Thursday the Global Ecosystem Summit. On Wednesday I roamed around TechXLR8, a large trade show that showcased some of the most innovative companies currently working in AI, IoT, 5G and blockchain. The week ended with the Startup Campus V4 Global Tour and a number of personalised visits.
The UK tech sector grew 2.6 times faster than the rest of the economy in 2017. Digital tech turnover increased from £170 billion in 2016 to £184 billion in 2017. According to TechNation, every 50 mins a new digital tech business is created in the UK. 8 out of 10 startups will fail, but it is part of the system. The UK accounts for 13 of Europe’s 34 tech unicorns ($1 million value companies).
UK Government – new plan announced
On Monday 11 June, the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan unveiled the new plan to transform London into the world’s smartest city.
The Smart London Roadmap will:
- Foster a bold new approach to connectivity via the Connected London programme. This will involve proposing new planning powers like requiring full fiber connectivity for all new buildings, enhancing public Wi-Fi and supporting the evolution of a 5G network to increase competition and choice between providers;
- Promote greater data sharing among public services through the London Office of Data Analytics – in which the Mayor will invest £365,000. This initiative will be supported by the Civic Innovation Challenge, a specific tech hub funded by the Mayor’s office to sponsor startups in tech-led urban design;
- Develop a pan-London cyber-security strategy, drawing together new and existing bodies, including the London Digital Security Centre and the London Cyber Innovation Centre, in response to Londoners’ concerns about the use of their data and online safety;
- Commission a new generation of smart technology (such as lamp posts incorporating air quality sensors, publicly-accessible Wi-Fi and electric vehicle charging points).
The UK government is committed to producing a national data strategy to unlock the power of data in the UK economy, while building the confidence to use it. Despite BREXIT, the government announced plans to release thousands more Tier 2 visas for the best talents and establish a new startup visa for entrepreneurs, founders and innovators.
The 8 essential technologies disrupting all businesses
Following a CEO survey run by PwC, 69% of UK CEOs said that their business model will be fundamentally disrupted in the next five years. In a tsunami of new technologies, eight essential technologies will impact all areas of business:
- Internet of Things (IoT)
IoT describes a network of devices (smartphones, appliances, assets) which are connected via the internet and can send/receive/share data with one another, without the need of human interaction.
- Augmented reality (AR)
Augmented reality expands our physical world, adding a layer of digital information onto it.
- Virtual reality (VR)
Computer generated simulation of 3D images/environments that can be interacted with in a seemingly real or physical way with the use of special electronic equipment.
- Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Machine learning – the concept of programming a system to learn from data, identify patterns, and make decisions for itself. The more data it analyses, the better at decision making it becomes.
Artificial Intelligence – the creation of intelligence machines that work and react like humans, without the need of human interactions.
This is a technology that changes everything, and we are living through it. – Secretary of State for business and industry, Greg Clarke, on AI during London Tech Week 2018.
Blockchain is a digitised, decentralised, open, public ledger of all cryptocurrency transactions. It stores chronological and secure records of all transactions that are validated and authorised by a larger community. Just as the internet revolutionised the way we communicate, blockchain has the potential to revolutionise the way we exchange value and trust.
- 3D printing
The process of creating three-dimensional objects. We can now print food, metal and even houses. The first set of habitable 3D printed houses are being produced by Van Wijnen in the Netherlands and will become available later this year.
A PwC report predicts that the use of drones in construction, defense, energy and logistics will lift UK GDP by 2%, boosting Britain’s economy by £42bn by 2030. It also predicts that 76,000 drones will be in use in the UK by 2030 for both commercial and public purposes.
- Robots and automation
A recent McKinsey report states that 30% of jobs could be automated by 2030 with up to 375 million workers worldwide affected. It is not an issue of ‘if’, but of ‘when’.
Global Ecosystems Summit
The Global Ecosystems Summit was a dedicated event for cross-ecosystem collaboration – an intersection point for scaleups, corporates and venture capital. The summit provided an opportunity for global startup hubs (Level39, RocketSpace UK, Techstars London, Mindspace) and innovation programmes (Barclays Innovation, Accenture Ventures & Open Innovation, Microsoft for Startups) to showcase their ecosystems.
The core of the debate identified what entrepreneurs value, the major barriers that entrepreneurs face and why corporates struggle to translate innovations into viable products.
Startup Campus V4 Global Tour Pitching
Eight startups from the V4 region – Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, the Czech Republic – in the fields of Life Science, Fintech and Energy have been selected to join the 5th stop of the Startup Campus V4 Global Tour. The Tour was dedicated to boosting the discoverability of the region’s startup ecosystem and to connect them with the UK market and VC.
Pitch winner – EcoSync
EcoSync is a cloud-based platform that automates room temperature and delivers insights on occupancy data using machine and deep learning technologies.
Companies worth mentioning
BlockDox – UK
BlockDox uses a combination of proprietary sensor hardware, software and algorithms to detect in real time and perform predictive people counting/flow within a space. The information is uploaded in real time to Microsoft Azure, linking it directly to 365. The company has paid pilots in the UK, China, South Korea and Singapore.
GrowUp – UK
Using a combination of aquaponics and vertical growing technologies, GrowUp creates urban farms that produce sustainable fresh fish, salads and herbs which are then supplied to local restaurants and shops. The company has created a viable proposition where they retrofit shipping containers for both indoor and outdoor usage.
Biomitech – Mexico
An air purifying system that transforms pollutant compounds in oxygen through the natural process of photosynthesis. The company uses different species of microalgae to improve air quality. Indoor and outdoor solutions are available. It’s the winner of the Latam Edge Award at London Tech Week 2018.
First Agenda – Denmark
First agenda uses speech recognition, machine learning and artificial intelligence to automate manual tasks (notes/minutes/follow up) in meetings. Once they are created, they are automatically sent by email.
Resysten – Hungary
A photocatalytic coating system for the prevention and transmission of diseases. It is activated by light and uses eco-friendly components. It reduces 99.99% of contaminants and it is applicable to any surface, including wood, glass, plastic, textile, rubber, stone etc.
by Gaia Arzilli / Innovation Scout – HB Reavis