Last week saw a showcase of the UK’s expertise in the digital world as London Tech Week kicked off. With over 300 events taking place over the course of 5 days, featuring 55,000 attendees from over 70 countries. The OFF3R team headed to some of the events and followed along closely from OFF3R HQ, and have picked out their stand-out trends from London Tech Week.
London Tech Week Trends
Trend 1: Brexit fails to dampen the demand for London tech talent
An aura of uncertainty has surrounded the UK over the past year, with this Saturday marking the one-year anniversary since Britain held a referendum and were delivered the news that they’d be leaving the EU. Amidst this ‘uncertainty’ stood concerns over talent retention in the UK, with the potential capping of immigration numbers put forward by the UK government,[i] coupled with skepticism of the UK’s future plans in Europe.
However, new data released during London Tech Week from Stack Overflow sees the UK feature in third place globally, just behind San Francisco and New York, in terms of cities with the highest concentration of technology developers. 11% growth in the past year.
Trend 2: Sophia steals the show
Day 2 of London Tech Week saw Hanson Robotics reveal their most advanced robot yet, Sophia. From her human looks, based on none-other than the iconic Audrey Hepburn, to her interview appearances on a multiple television shows there’s no surprise that the artificial intelligence behind her distinctive human traits caught our attention.
Hanson Robotics founder and Sophia creator, David Hanson, is already recognised with prominence across the global for his ‘genius initiatives’ of creating robots that can not only act, but also pull off the appearance, of a real human being. We have no doubt Sophia will only advance in her human-likeness and supreme intelligence as time evolves.
Check out the SyndicateRoom blog on ‘Investing in Automation’ for more tech trends of 2017.
Trend 3: Google sets out to fill the digital skills gap
Tech Week saw Google open the doors to their new ‘Digital Skills Academy’ in London. From children to CEO’s, the 3,700 sqm hub has set out to ‘create 3,000 new jobs by 2020’, ‘harness new technologies’, ‘build the brightest and best companies’, but over and above all, to ‘educate and inspire everyone’. These are no small feats, but no doubt ones that tech giants, Google, will pursue with determination to succeed.
With a Brighton themed beach, ‘fun-fair’ style rooms and a cinema all encompassed in the new campus, we’d be surprised to hear of anyone in London not wanting to further their ‘digital skills’ education.
Trend 4: The first UK man defies gravity
From oil trader to rocket man, Richard Browning, founder of tech start-up Gravity, took flight at Tech Week. [ii] Using six miniature jet engines, ‘snake-bite resistant’ walking boots and a lightweight exoskeleton (ultimately a powered suit of armour), Browning, took off vertically outside the London Excel Centre, supported through his capability of holding his own bodyweight for long periods of time.
At a price of £40,000 we might not be seeing everyone take flight to the local supermarket just yet, but if technology keeps going at the current rate, and Browning sticks true to his word that eventually the suit will be capable of flying hundreds of miles per hour at thousands of feet high, who knows where we’ll be jetting off to in the future.
Trend 5: To get 5G right we need to predict the future
Whilst it might look like the UK government were jumping the gun back in April, when Hammond announced budget plans to invest £16million into 5G, it became clear over the course at London Tech Weeks’ TechXLR8 event that this was a smart move. 4G is very much still making its way into the lives of people, but key industry players, recognised the need to innovate now, in preparation for the future.
CEO of EE, Marc Allera, noted “We cannot progress as a digital economy if we build a network for what people are only using today.”, which was similarly supported by Howard Watson, CEO of Technology Services and Operations at BT, who mentioned “We need to understand what the customer will need to do with their smartphones in 2020 and that is our primary driver for what 5G should achieve.”
Trend 6: Drone racing goes from hobby to international sport
2017 marks the year that ‘Drone Racing’ makes the step to the professional sporting circuit. London Tech Week marked this with the launch of UK’s first professional drone race being held at Alexandra Palace.[iii]
Having secured key investment and sponsorship from notable names in the sporting industry such as the owner of Formula One racing, Liberty Media Corporation and Sky,[iv] the league has the support needed to run a professional league aimed at drawing in drone racing pilots from all around the world. As well as allowing audiences from more than 75 countries to be able to follow along closely through TV coverage of the world championships. Hold tight – the drone racing world championships could be featuring on your TV this summer!