Technology developments are fuelling business growth. In a study by Siemens, London has been named the most “digitally ready” global city, rising above tech hubs Los Angeles, Johannesburg and Dubai. In the face of economic uncertainty, London is “leading the charge in digitisation”, says Maier, and helping to shape the smart cities of tomorrow by growing its technologies that will transform its economy
It’s a golden period for technology. London’s 3,000–5,000 tech start-ups, valued at £34 billion collectively, have helped to expand the UK tech industry 2.6 times faster than the rest of the UK economy, claims Tech Nation. Today, there are more new technology firms than ever before plying their trade. Venture capital funding is at a record high: a staggering £2.6 billion was deployed in the UK in the first half of 2018, and more than twice as much venture capital was deployed as in Germany in the third quarter, according to KPMG. As cash flows within the capital, innovative ideas have grown wings to fly.
Enter Olly, the world’s first robot with a personality. Olly was brought to life by Emotech, a team of leading artificial intelligence (AI) researchers and neuroscientists plugging away at Workspace’s Wenlock Studios in Old Street, East London. The doughnut-shaped machine, rising up off its stand to swivel and greet its owner, is out to snatch the prize for most likeable home assistant from the likes of Amazon’s Echo and Google Home. Olly doesn’t just do what you tell him to do, he gets to know you and can start up a conversation. If you are sad, Olly can see it in your face and hear it in your voice – he can even cheer you up.
Since closing an impressive $10 million round of investment from two Chinese VC firms – Alliance Capital and Lightning Capital – in 2015, Emotech has been developing AI capable of constructing a personality right here in the UK. It is now the most awarded robotics product in CES (Consumer Electronic Show) history, with four 2017 CES innovation awards under its LED-lit belt. Co-founder Chelsea Chen puts her success down to finding the right talent. She funnelled the majority of funding money into hiring AI expertise to strengthen the project, and it was London’s talent pool that proved attractive when starting out. “Here you can meet all the best AI and applied researchers, and very experienced developers and designers with creative ideas,” says Chen.
She didn’t have to venture far. Based in East London Tech City – also dubbed Silicon Roundabout, London’s answer to Silicon Valley – Emotech benefits from being surrounded by the best in its field. Thanks to the UK’s Tech Nation Visa scheme (one of the most generous in the world for exceptional individuals), some of the most innovative minds from across the world have flocked to the area to grow mere sparks of ideas into billion-pound businesses.
Yes, London has talent, but how is it future-proofing itself to maintain its reputation for scaling up businesses? The answer lies in investing in the technology of tomorrow that is so coveted by forward-thinking businesses. The city is rolling out 5G, and it’s lightning-fast.
“London has the advantage of some of the world’s largest phone networks – EE, Vodafone, O2 Telefonica – ready to roll out 5G across the city,” says Chris Boultwood, Head of Technology at Workspace. “With faster speeds and reduced latency, the new technology will help business growth in all industries, particularly AI, the internet of things and autonomous vehicles.”
This investment is helping the UK progress on its path to becoming the world’s deep tech nation, with the success of artificial-intelligence companies like cybersecurity firm Darktrace, gaming software developer Improbable and claims expert, Tractable - who knows what the future holds.
Wenlock Studios is just one of over 60 Workspace properties that are home to some of the capital’s foremost digital and tech start-ups. Take a look at our full portfolio and discover what Workspace can offer your digital business.