Ask most people what they associate with London and technology would probably not be top of the list. However, what few readers of this piece may realise is that the UK has the third largest tech ecosystem in the world (after the US and China) and has produced over 80 unicorns (private businesses worth over $1bn) in the last three years. For every £1 that is invested in the UK on technology and digital skills, there is a £5 return on investment.

These stats and many more were shared with your author when he attended the opening presentations at London’s annual Tech Week yesterday. Now in its 11th year, more than 45,000 visitors along with 5,000+ start-ups will participate in events across the capital. Opening proceedings was London’s Mayor, Sadiq Khan, who praised the city as being “diverse, dynamic and daring.” Of greater substance were presentations from leading figures at Microsoft and IBM.

AI was, inevitably, the common theme across presentations. If forecasts from McKinsey (that were shared during IBM’s presentation) are correct, then by 2030 the size of the global AI market will be greater than that of the UK economy ($4.4tr vs $3.3tr). Unsurprisingly then, not only is “a great deal at stake”, but also that we are “just at the tip of the iceberg.” Much importance was stressed on getting AI right; that it should “augment and not replace”, in the words of Nicola Hodson, the Chief Executive, UK and Ireland of IBM.

Impressively, more than 75% of people polled in a study conducted by LinkedIn and Microsoft said that they were already using AI at work. To get a sense of just how rapid pace of adoption is, then consider that 46% of people interviewed said that they had started using AI within the last six months. Practical examples of use-cases were provided by businesses as diverse as NatWest, WPP and Wayve (respectively a bank, advertising agency and autonomous driving start-up). AI is undoubtedly empowering and will become even more so when it moves from cognitive to embodied use-cases (in hardware such as robots or vehicles as opposed to software), even if safety and ethics remain top concerns. Think about how much has changed in the last year in order to gain an impression of what we might learn at 2025’s Tech Week.

11 June 2024

The above does not constitute investment advice and is the sole opinion of the author at the time of publication. Past performance is no guide to future performance and the value of investments and income from them can fall as well as rise.

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Alex Gunz, Fund Manager

Photos by the author

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