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What does the future look like for the London tech scene?

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20th Nov 2017

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Russ Shaw, an angel and venture investor, founded Tech London Advocates back in 2013 and since then a group of more than 4000 experts have been doing an amazing job in championing London tech and digital businesses.

On Thursday 17th November, Tech London Advocates brought the Tech World Tour to Here East to bring together leaders from around the world to share their views and expertise on the future of the London tech scene. Hosted by BBC's business presenter Ben Thompson, the event was set to put key questions to high-profile entreprenuers and industry leaders.

Over 50 start-ups had the chance to showcase their innovative new businesses in the well curated Marketplace. One popular demonstartor was Buzzbike - a clever startup dedicated to increasing cycling in London with incentives linked to how many miles you rack up.

Unsurprisingly, Brexit was a hot topic and the focus for many panels and speaches, highlighting and discussing the uncertainity this poses to various businesses throughout the UK.

RT Hon Brandon Lewis, Minister of State for Immigration gave a positive opening key note speech, stating the need to streamline processes and not create hurdles in a post-Brexit landscape. Businesses are increasingly concerned as to how Brexit is going to effect hiring talent from outside of the UK, and accordingly to Brandon, this will not be a challenge going forward.

There was a 152% increase in 'Exeptional Talent' visas granted in the past year, which inidcates that highly skilled people are coming from all over the world to work in the London tech industry. Brandon announced that they will be doubling the number of these visa's from 1000 to 2000 to support growth, enhance our economy and assist the UK in continuing the prosper.

However, Claire Cockerton, CEO and Founder of Plexal, highlighted how potential gaps in homegrown talent and the worries of complicated hiring processes post Brexit, could impact on the growth and scalability of the London tech industry.

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Neil Scoresby, General Manager of Payphones and InLinkUK at BT, took to the stage and announced a significant development for London's connectivity. New 'Links' kiosks will be replacing 1000 payphones around London to provide super fast free wifi, charging points, free calls and access to city services. These kiosks aim to create a more 'connected' city and support the economy, tourists and businesses. As these are funded through advertising, they can provide a completley free service making it accessible to all.

Cobra beer founder Lord Bilimoria headed up a fascinating panel focused on the relationship between the UK and India, specifically in the tech industry. India has played a significant part in companies outsourcing talent, especially in core development and IT roles, investment is now also being focused to creatives and designers. However, Lord Bilimoria stressed how problematic Brexit will be in maintaining and scaling this relationship. Most companies want the UK to be their European headquarters, but he stated due to more regulations and complicated processes, the UK will become a less desireable location post Brexit and businesses will go elsewhere.

One of the final panels of the day was 'Tech in the age of Trump'. Representatives from Rocketspace, Jaunt VR and GainX discussed how this has affected US based companies, especially in the tech mecca of Silicon Valley. Dominic Collins, General Manager of Jaunt VR pointed out that most Californians are not Trump supporters so views, values etc are not reflective of this area.

Dominic stated again, the biggest fears are how changes in immigration policy may effect businesses, and ultimately the ability to source talent outside of the US. Technology is moving at an incredible pace, and with advancements in AI significantly altering the transport industry, this impacts directly on a majority of mid-west Trump supporters. This begs the question whether Trump will make it increasingly difficult for technology companies to scale and grow for his own personal gain.

Interested in attending future events? Stay up to date here - http://www.techlondonadvocates.org.uk/ @techlondonadvocates