Political flux, dodgy weather, and a mighty strong tech scene – it was business as usual in the UK capital for another London Tech Week, an electric five days showcasing the big smoke’s magnetic hold on the global tech community.
London today is a city powered by tech. From challenger banks to home delivery, AI to DNA- recoding, 13 firms valued at over $1bn reside in the city and its environs, that’s nearly 40% of Europe’s unicorn total. Seven out of Europe’s top 10 VC firms live here – and investment continues to power a vibrant start-up scene.
Since 2014, London Tech Week has asked the fast-paced world of technology to pause for a moment and appreciate the present – and the future of products which may soon define it. As ever, there was a tangible buzz at the 200-event extravaganza. Here’s our highlights:
The TechXLR8 event is London Tech Week’s main anchor. This year, TechXLR8 focused heavily on the development and upcoming launch of 5G, while an insightful programme of keynote speakers and Q& A session was streamed live on YouTube.
For us, the icing on the cake at TechXLR8 was EON Reality’s Virtual Trainer, a software-as-a-service platform which simulates real work environments, transporting trainees into the thick of the action in a safe, life-like, VR setting.
In high risk-factor industries, including medicine, aerospace and defence, trainees can practice critical and complex task in preparation for the real thing. During Tech Week, EON’s platform was dubbed the most innovative, business-relevant example of VR today.
Perhaps it’s coming soon to a workplace near you …
A festival of all things AI, CogX was a discussion and showcase hub for ideas and discourse in fields such as data science, machine learning, the future of work and the fourth industrial revolution. Tech Week just wouldn’t be Tech Week without a gaze to the future and where all this tech is taking us.
During keynote discussion Responsible and ethical deployment of AI, Paul Daugherty – CTO at Accenture and author of Human + Machine – gave a fascinating insight into the practical applications of AI while banishing the myth that robots are coming to get us.
Paul believes AI and humans can do great and positive things when working in harmony. Collaborative intelligence, he called it.
The topic Leveraging Technology Creatively for Consumer Engagement spoke to us at Quander, for obvious reasons. This Createch session unpacked the immersive brand experiences that are possible via new technologies. As we know well, providing captivating, unique experiences can forge airtight bonds between customer and brand. To showcase that notion, one case study presented Jaguar Land Rover’s launch of a world-first – a simultaneous, experiential, pan-continental virtual reality product launch.
Audiences in several time zones were able to breathe in and explore JLR’s first electric concept vehicle and see it in action up close and personal.
Start-ups we like
Away from the high-level debate and big brand innovation, London Tech Week also brought an introduction to start-up firms brimming with potential. BioSelf Technology wants to reduce our anxieties via a dedicated wearable that, instead of simply pointing out our stress levels, actually does something to lower them.
Another startup that caught our eye is Hiyacar– a peer to peer (P2P) car hiring service, billed as Airbnb for cars. At the heart of Hiyacar is QuickStart, the UK’s first P2P keyless tech solution that enables members to unlock and start cars via their smartphones. It’s another addition to a sharing economy that’s powered by tech and moving at pace.
What’s next for UK Tech?
For us, tech isn’t just for London Tech Week – frantic and scintillating innovations are happening 24/7, leaving virtually no industry untouched. And with Theresa May announcing a £2.3 billion cash injection into UK tech, it looks like homegrown innovation won’t be slowing any time soon.