London Technology Week: Four key pillars of tech brilliance
Russ Shaw's latest blog praises the four sectors – Big Data, FinTech, AdTech and HealthTech – currently transforming British business
As London Technology Week gathers pace, I spoke this morning at the ‘Big Data Breakfast’ at Level39 in Canary Wharf, where around 250 leading entrepreneurs and businesspeople gathered to assess how Big Data is transforming British business.
The event – hosted by Big Data giant WANdisco and supported by Tech London Advocates – reminded me that whilst London Technology Week is a celebration of London’s budding tech scene as a whole, the success of the sum has only been established through the brilliance of its parts.
Arguably Big Data and Data tech, along with FinTech, AdTech and HealthTech, have been the four sectors of London’s tech industry that have underpinned its dramatic rise in recent years.
We are all aware of how Big Data has transformed the way we socially interact, listen to our music or shop online. Social media platforms recommend us friends, Spotify and iTunes recommend us music and Amazon recommends us products – all calculated by Big Data based on our and other users’ previous interactions, likes, playlists and purchases.
But the power of Big Data permeates much deeper than this. Take healthcare for example; instead of clinical trials and targeted research groups, Big Data analysis could potentially unleash an abundance of insight and knowledge into how we tackle diseases and improve treatment – including those for cancer and diabetes.
Human trafficking, political elections, crime and droughts are all other areas in which Big Data has been mooted to solve complex issues. And investors are rightly starting to take notice. Take London-based DueDil, who provide business, accounting and director information on UK and Irish companies based on Big Data; in March they raised a further £10m in funding from a range of high-profile investors.
HealthTech is another hugely exciting area driving the London tech industry’s growth. In March Deputy Mayor of London Kit Malthouse announced plans to establish London as the ‘HealthTech capital of Europe’ through the establishment of Med City – a sister cluster to Tech City that will form a London-Oxford-Cambridge ‘Golden Triangle’.
The Med City initiative will create thousands of jobs and attract millions of pounds worth of investment, and it is for this reason that Tech London Advocates are running a competition to discover the next generation of HealthTech innovators. Those successful will have the chance to pitch to a group of experienced mentors, and will receive invaluable advice and opportunities along their HealthTech journey.
And in AdTech, London can lay claim to being one of – if not the – most creative city in the world. AdTech accelerators such as The Bakery, an incubator launched in collaboration with the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising, are helping the next generation of London AdTech start-ups get off the ground and solidify London’s status as a global creative hub.
London’s FinTech start-ups have also experienced huge levels of investment and growth, benefiting from the City’s status as the financial capital of the world. For example, FinTech start-ups in the UK and Ireland raised over £400m in investment between 2008 and 2013, with growth in UK companies outperforming that of Silicon Valley in the same time period.
As a financial services global leader, London offers FinTech start-ups the perfect array of Square Mile talent, experience and infrastructure for them to succeed. Canary Wharf plays host to Level39, Europe’s largest FinTech accelerator space, Barclays Accelerator is powered by TechStars and Startupbootcamp FinTech continues to expand at a rapid pace.
And the rewards are being reaped. Just this morning Santander announced a partnership with peer-to-peer lenders Funding Circle, the first time a High Street bank has offered crowd funding support to small businesses.
For London’s tech industry, right across a whole range of tech sectors, the city is brimming with promising opportunities.
Now it is up to our start-ups to seize the day and take them.