London Tech Week recap: Tech start-ups and scale-ups remain the beating heart of the UK economy

This week saw London Tech Week celebrate its 10th anniversary with a showcase of technology and innovation over five days of engaging and inspirational events designed to foster collaboration and drive positive change. 

This year’s core theme was ‘Shape the Future’, underpinned by the notion that by uniting the global tech community we can drive sustainable innovation now and in years to come.

A feature of this year’s event which really caught our eye was the Start-up Spotlight, which dominated the main stage all week, featuring some of the tech ecosystem’s most innovative founders and serial entrepreneurs sharing their stories and advice with real world perspective.

It is undeniable that start-ups and scale-ups remain the beating heart of the UK’s burgeoning tech ecosystem and continue to drive the UK economy forwards. Data from Companies House earlier in this year, first reported by City AM, revealed the number of newly-created UK tech firms in 2022 to be up by a fifth on 2021, with 46,474 new tech companies founded. The same publication also reported that 2022’s uptick in registrations of new tech firms was almost double that of 2020, when numbers slowed due to the Covid pandemic. Momentum.

As this year’s headline London Tech Week showcase draws to a close, we’ve taken a look back at the key themes which encapsulated the excitement and momentum surrounding the start-up community, and some of the most progressive and innovative players who made waves this week.

FinTech collaboration holds the key to economic recovery

Amidst the economic pressures and uncertainties facing businesses and consumers alike, one thing is for sure, over the last year we have seen a noticeable shift away from ‘growth at all costs’ towards a focus on profit and sustainable growth and partnerships. At the heart of this new narrative is a focus on cross-industry collaboration to help future proof businesses, which came through loud and clear at this year’s LTW.

We saw Rishi Khosla, CEO and co-founder of leading fintech, OakNorth, which is focused on helping SMEs scale, lead a keynote address on the state of UK fintech, with a view that it holds the key to unlocking our entrepreneurs’ potential and drive UK economic growth. To date, OakNorth has lent over £8.5bn to British businesses, supporting the creation of tens of thousands of new jobs. 

Elsewhere, Zopa’s CEO Jaidev Janardana took to the ‘Main Stage’ on a panel discussing how fintech is leading the charge in future proofing businesses, and the importance of operating profitably and sustainably within their ecosystem. 

Since Janardana joined Zopa in 2014, the peer-to-peer lending platform has secured its banking license, increased its lending volumes 6x, and grown revenue 15x.

Technology’s pivotal role in the future of work

On the ‘Transformation Stage’ there was a series of talks and discussions dedicated to one of the UK’s biggest talking points – the future of work. Digital transformation dominated the agenda – covering topics such as corporate innovation, the rise and evolution of artificial intelligence, advancements in cybersecurity, and digital skills. 

A particularly engaging panel discussion explored the role of skills in enterprise digital transformation, including Ayman Omar from mission-driven tech startup Multiverse, which provides apprenticeship programmes that combine work, training and community to create a diverse group of future leaders. 

We also saw an inspiring session which explored how we can bridge the gap between enterprise and government – the premise being that despite the digital push across industries, there remains a substantial gap between the strategy of enterprise and government. Featuring on this panel was Elina Lam-Gal, Director of Learning and Workforce Transformation at PUBLIC, a leading European government-focused technology company helping to reimagine and build digitally enabled public services. 

Expediting progress in the fight against climate change

It was encouraging to see an ‘Impact Stage’ dedicated to building a sustainable economy. There was a particularly fascinating discussion on the topic of ‘impact investing vs investing with impact’ – that is, the challenges and opportunities in store for those looking to drive investment into an equitable, low-carbon future. Part of this panel was Sarah Sclarsic, Founding Partner at Voyager VC, a venture firm investing in early-stage companies focused on decarbonization. 

Elsewhere, another panel discussion focused on ‘the business case for biodiversity’, in recognition of a growing demand from consumers and investors for businesses to take action on biodiversity. It was interesting to hear from Dr Kat Bruce, Founder of NatureMetrics which she created in 2014 to improve the ability of businesses, governments and NGOs to measure and track the state of nature at site-based assets. It is now one of the world’s leading nature technology companies. 

Driving productivity, efficiency, and competition in enterprise

The ‘Enterprise Transformation Expo’ shone a light on how corporates are innovating and embracing emerging technologies. 

One of the stand-out panel discussions on the ‘Transformation Stage’ was ‘the war on cybercrime’, exploring the idea that while digital acceleration and emerging technologies are changing enterprises for the better, this also brings with it a number of threats and increased risk, such as fraud and cybersecurity concerns. It was a pleasure to hear from John Hermans, Head of Europe Cybersecurity & Risk Services at Wipro, a technology and IT consultancy helping enterprises address the most complex digital transformation needs.

Sachin Dev Duggal, Founder of Builder.ai, provided some fascinating insights during a fireside chat which explored how to nurture a relationship with Generative AI for businesses, specifically fostering trust between people, businesses, and intelligent machines. Builder.ai is a next gen software development platform which “makes building apps so easy that anyone can do it” – an exciting concept as AI becomes increasingly integrated into our personal and professional lives. 

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