It was standing room only when your author and almost 200 others descended on London’s trendy Ham Yard Hotel to hear all about what’s hot in the world of technology. Molten Ventures, a leading UK venture capital firm, hosted its annual investor day where attendees had the opportunity to hear 15-minute presentations from different entrepreneurs. There are few better opportunities to learn about true innovation.

Passion and a genuine intent to disrupt established ways of doing business were commonalities across the diverse pitches we heard. The importance of being willing to fail-fast and learn from such failings was stressed constantly too. The banking industry represents one particularly fertile area for innovation. We were told on several occasions how legacy banking systems were typically localised and siloed. Most financial services businesses need a modern tech stack, but few have it. This creates clear opportunities in areas such as enabling real-time payments and reducing fraud.

Generative AI solutions will certainly help make a difference in an area such as banking. We were reminded though that with over 80% of the world’s data being unstructured (or not ordered and accessible), almost no industry will remain untouched by algorithms that can help users access what they need. Security and transparency were stressed as crucial considerations. Users need to be able to trust data sources and know that firm-specific information will not be used to train external models.

Hubris around AI was generally downplayed. We heard no “this time it’s different” pitches. Rather, we were reminded that AI was not a new technology. Most businesses (and consumers) remain on a journey, one which will gradually allow algorithms to develop capabilities that become increasingly close to those of humans. We were encouraged to hear of its practical deployment in improving outcomes in fields as diverse as drones, thermal imaging, precision medicine and cancer detection. It’s hard not to be optimistic about the future.   

13 February 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

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