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Russ Shaw

Founder, Tech London Advocates and Global Tech Advocates

“London Tech Week” is a major misnomer

The name could well be somewhat misleading – if you thought that London Tech Week was simply about the capital’s tech community, think again. With all eyes on Britain’s digital economy, this week gives the perfect platform to not only showcase the best of Britain but to secure routes for international collaboration that are going to prove critical for future prosperity.

London tech is in a globally unique position and has an opportunity to act as a truly significant destination for connecting digital hubs around the world. There are currently few rivals, Britain enjoys a deep-seated competitive advantage as a tech nation that can bring together the global technology industry. Day two of London Tech Week spells out exactly what the opportunity for Britain is.

In recent weeks, the headlines have been dominated by the increasing trade tensions that prevail between the US and China – with technology taking centre stage. The prestige and sheer scale of Silicon Valley and the public markets of New York need no introduction and remain an important partner for UK tech entrepreneurs. Yet, without doubt British business is becoming less reliant on crossing the Atlantic to achieve the billion-dollar valuations and top line growth figures that were once exclusive to the US. While equally, the ambition, infrastructure investment and capital that is thriving in China’s tech ecosystem cannot be ignored and is growing in prevalence for UK tech companies as a key international partner. Britain can thrive from a position of strategic prominence – a connector of the two tech titans.

This morning, I joined CENTI (China Europes Networks of Technology and Innovation) in hosting an event focused on the Greater Bay Area (Shenzhen, Guangzhou and Hong Kong) – to discuss how entrepreneurs and investors can further engagement with soon to be China’s largest tech hub. China’s tech community has witnessed unprecedented growth in recent years, and I have seen first-hand the commitment that is being made in becoming a future facing economy by government and business leaders alike. As a result, they are becoming eager to embrace international collaboration. With Britain in search of securing fresh pastures as we transition outside of the EU, the scope for cross-border enterprise is enormous – and none more so than in the fintech and AI verticals.

Specifically for fintech, the UK is viewed as an important leader in this space with many fintech unicorns emerging; in addition from a regulatory and infrastructure standpoint, the UK has proved incredibly adept at creating the right conditions for engagement. London Tech Week is the perfect place to strengthen ties and cement relations.

The importance of the UK’s ties across Asia is clear – Natalie Black, HM Trade Commissioner for Asia Pacific, is this week leading a delegation with the Department of International Trade to connect British tech companies into prominent entrepreneurs, corporates and investors from Singapore, Vietnam and Japan.

Closer to home, our European allies have also been out in full force. This afternoon Tech Nordic Advocates presented the unique offering of start-ups and scale-ups from the Nordic and Baltic regions – showcasing the best fintech, blockchain, cryptocurrency, cybersecurity and AI firms in search of international expansion – with London a key destination. This evening the Tech London Advocates Ukraine group is co-hosting an event joined by Ambassador of Ukraine in the UK, Natalia Galibarenko – to explore the opportunities and challenges for both tech ecosystems in forging forwards and supporting collective growth. These are all welcome signals that Britain remains a centre point for innovation and collaboration across the continent and will help to bolster ties that weather the political situation in the UK.

While fintech is close to stealing the show, today equally brought to the fore the rise of health-tech as a vertical that is now, rightfully, attracting real attention from international backers. The TLA HealthTech Innovator Conference returned to London Tech Week and exposed exactly why we should all be watching the space – the UK has leveraged its world-leading universities and research institutions, to underpin commercial applications and is now rapidly scaling digital businesses that are transforming the health industry with global ambitions.

Day two of London Tech Week has been an important reflection of what global Britain means for the tech sector and how we can thrive as an international tech hub connecting others from around the world towards a collective goal. Tomorrow headline events, TechXLR8 and AI Summit, will build momentum to showcase UK tech at its best.

Russ Shaw is the founder of Tech London Advocates and Global Tech Advocates