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The Best Bits from London Technology Week, 15-21 June (Posted by Shell LiveWIRE)

Tue, 23 June 2015

London Technology Week celebrated the capital’s thriving technology sector with hundreds of exciting business events in an effort to narrow the gap with the Silicon Valley.
Over 40,000 people took part, attending discussions, workshops and networking opportunities with industry influencers like Google, Amazon, Bloomberg and IBM. 

The UK now has the fastest growing digital economy in the G20, and the sector provides a wealth of opportunities for start-ups, entrepreneurs and young professionals. It was estimated that by 2024 London tech firms will have provided an extra 46,000 jobs, and already more international tech investments have come to London than Paris, Dublin, Amsterdam and Munich combined. Unlocking the digital potential of the UK, however, means finding new ways of meeting the tech skills shortage, so the events aimed to inspire the next generation of business leaders. 
 
Some of our favourite events focused on how tech entrepreneurs could create a smarter future. Cognicity, the programme which helps innovators build smarter cities and featured Shell LiveWIRE alumni Pavegen, held an open house with a guided tour and introductions to the start-ups which are helping London become one of the world’s most technologically advanced cities
 
Bloomberg focused on the world’s growing population, and how technology could address the resource pressures the capital faces. Their Smarter Cities Conference brought together city strategists, policy makers and business leaders to discuss the potential for technology to solve crucial challenges in sustainability, energy, health and transport. Energetic discussion from big players like IBM, BT and Greater London Authority highlighted infrastructure as a key area for the digital industry to tackle, and how a modern city could be planned while keeping the historic and cultural heritage of London. We were particularly excited to see Laurence Kemball-Cook, founder of Pavegen, discuss how future cities could be powered. His own business harnesses kinetic energy from footsteps, and secured funding from our own programme in 2011. Pavegen also took part in the week by exhibiting their tiles at the celebration party, using an energy tennis game to promote their interactive renewable technology.
 
There was also a strong focus on diversity in tech, and how the skills shortage could be confronted through education and a working culture which embraces the vibrant and diverse nature of London. There was positive news – the gender gap in tech is certainly closing. But many events highlighted the challenges that women and minorities still face in the industry, with only 17% of positions in the tech industry held by women, and 23% of tech businesses with no women in senior positions. Wikipedia’s founder, Jimmy Wales, said that the proportion of women working in technology was ‘disastrous’ for the sector, so many hoped that London Technology Week would be used as a platform to attract more people of all backgrounds to the industry (CNBC.com). Indeed, at the very start of the week, Russ Shaw pointed out that the problem should be the number one priority for the industry and so many of the events themselves focused on, or incorporated, ways to make the industry more accessible and appealing to women. 
 
The award of Innovator of the Year was given to mapping start-up What3Words, a company which provides everyone across the world with a unique address by generating a random series of three words for each 3m x 3m section of the world.
 
Overall, the week was a resounding success with an increase in numbers from last year and a huge range of events available. Events such as those that took place during London Technology Week are vastly important in helping to put the spotlight on how technological innovation, like our latest award winning business, tech start-up Penumbra Power, can steer us toward a smarter future. 
 
About Us
Established in 1982, the Shell LiveWIRE programme offers free online business advice and funding to young entrepreneurs in the UK (England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland). 
 
The new Smarter Future Programme supports young entrepreneurs with smart and innovative ideas that meet the energy and resource needs of a fast-growing population. The new programme awards a start-up grant of £5,000 and mentoring each month to one 16-30 year old entrepreneur with an idea that addresses sustainable living challenges through smart innovation. Click here to learn more about the award categories and apply now.