Jun 14th 2019

That’s a LTWrap! A (slightly political) rundown of LTW 2019

London Tech Week

Once again, another London Tech Week concludes in what was a particularly gloomy-weathered five days. Aside from our brilliantly attended PR Start-up Clinic this Tuesday, a number of very interesting speeches and events also took place throughout the week.

Small steps to make big changes

ARVRWorld is a good example of this. I don’t think consumers quite realise how much AR and VR are going to affect our day to day lives in the future – and given the hype around gaming and Oculus, this seems strange to me. That said, in the business world, particularly in manufacturing, this seems to be going great guns.

To illustrate the professional applications of AR, a couple of the team, Matt and Paul, attended the show at the ExCel and sat in on a conference during which they were both given individual headsets to listen to the talk. It might seem like a small thing, but augmenting that particular reality (not sounding too Inception, am I?) provided a much more intimate and personal experience, rather than having to crane over the audience to hear the speaker.

Maybe the future is small things that make a big difference.

Politics plays its hand

Alongside this, AI seems also to have made it to mainstream consciousness this year, at the very least in certain political circles. It seems to me that finally, and I really mean finally, UK politicians are taking notice of the tech world and how it can make life better, more secure, and more useful for everyone. Evidence of this was the speech given by Jeremy Wright MP the Digital Secretary at the CogX conference on AI.

Wright highlighted the need for data gathered by tech companies to be opened up and used to help society and tackle challenges in the public sector. To me this seems a good idea, if not significantly overdue. The sheer amount of data that any one person produces on any given day is incredible – so why not take the tools we’re developing for businesses to make them work better, and apply them to social problems? Whether the tech sector likes it or not, it is intertwined with society in ways it couldn’t really imagine, so why not jump the gun and start offering that data and those tools to the betterment of all, rather than the bottom line? Radical I know, but hey, it might work.

But perhaps the big-ticket item to take away from this year’s London Tech Week is the speech that Theresa May gave, after having resigned as leader of the Conservative Party and leaving the country in a bit of political turmoil. Now, we all know that anything and everything is on the table when it comes to being used for politicking, but it’s been reported that this speech probably won’t have any effect on the tech sector in real terms.

Even without the £1 billion pledged by global tech companies and announced by May in the speech, the tech sector in the UK is growing at a rapid rate. The £153 million allocated by the UK government to develop quantum computing is a great bonus and an additional £205 million pledged by industry for quantum computing to help medical drug development is good news.  However, the TwitterSphere and others gave a collective “so what?” and I’m inclined to agree – the government has been playing catch-up with the tech sector for years, and this speech gave no indication of anything else.

Hancock is amongst ‘his people’

Finally, Matt Hancock MP, until very recently one of the current crop of party leadership hopefuls, called for the UK to become a world leader in Unicorns. Which, whilst woolly, is a fair shout. London recently continued its reign as leader of Europe’s herd of unicorns. Now, Hancock’s statement does not seem to be hokum or pulled from thin air; he used to work in a software company, has his own app, and was recently in charge of the government’s digital strategy. He has at least some experience in tech, so he has some credibility in the sector.

What do you think? I ask because as a PR we see things from a very different perspective. Personally, I thought it was an interesting LTW, not just a back-slapping self-congratulatory get together of the tech world as these things can often be. Let us know, and if you ever want to discuss how we can help in getting your back slapped (in a good way), drop us a note, and come in for a coffee.


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