London’s tech hub will be critical for the city’s recovery
Last month marked one year since the UK went into lockdown. For businesses around the country, particularly in the hospitality and retail sectors, this anniversary is one of commiseration as many have been forced to close their doors for months on end.
For others, and especially those in the technology sector, the pandemic has brought with it prosperity, as London-based tech start-ups continue to deliver stellar results.
For instance, Hopin, a London-born virtual events platform, tripled its valuation to $5.65billion just one year after launch, as remote events became the norm with social distancing measures in place. When I joined Luminance, a London-headquartered company that uses artificial intelligence to analyse documents, as CEO in January this year, the company had seen an equally impressive year, having seen a 40% increase in customers in 2020 alone.
Irrespective of sector, industry or city, the pandemic has forced people to think, work and communicate differently, and technology has been a fundamental component of that.
Whether it’s cyber security platforms like Darktrace that have helped to keep our workforces safe from cyber-attacks whilst working from home, food-delivery apps such as Deliveroo that have kept us fed while our favourite restaurants are closed, or enterprise AI software like Luminance that has enabled legal professionals to maintain ‘business-as-usual’ whilst working across locations, technologies like these have become a staple part of navigating the impact of the pandemic on both our personal and professional lives.
And in the same way that tech has been a critical component in tackling the last 12 months, it will be just as important for London’s economic recovery in the 12 months ahead.
It was reported that London-based start-ups raised more than $10 billion in funding last year alone, firmly cementing the capital’s position as Europe’s leading tech hub. At the same time, Tech Nation revealed that employment in UK tech has increased by 40% in the last two years, indicating just how crucial this sector is for a country tackling a 5% unemployment rate, the highest rate for five years.
It’s clear that the Government are also placing big bets on technology, and AI in particular, being key to the country’s economic recovery post-Covid. The recent AI Roadmap published by the AI Council includes recommendations to focus the UK’s strategic direction on AI, including a commitment to skill building and increased public sector investment in AI.
And with the Government embarking on its mission to become a Science Superpower and achieve a 10% increase in UKGDP through AI by 2020, these technologies are being viewed strategically as both national assets and key drivers of future economic growth.
As CEO of Luminance, the award-winning AI company that services over 300 organisations in 55 countries, I have seen first-hand the scale of innovation and entrepreneurship that stems from our capital.
I have no doubt that technology will be the engine that drives our economy as we emerge from the pandemic and I’m very much looking forward to the ride.