“I’m reluctant to mention the B-word, writes Conor Reynolds, but luckily London Tech Week’s festival director brings it up first.”
“We’re in the Brexit era: this is about making sure that the UK remains very firmly in position as a global tech leader; attracting investment and business to London to continue the tech story.’’
Zoe Osmond cuts straight to the chase. The festival director of London Tech Week has just over a month to go to prepare for the launch of the week-long festival of technology, which kicks off on June 11.
With 55,000 people expected to attend, the festival is a chance to showcase the city’s status as a global powerhouse of tech and Europe’s tech capital. London, the event shouts, is open for business.
There are more than a few pieces of the puzzle to put together organisationally, but Osmond, who works for multinational events giant Informa, is not concerned: “The delivery of events are part of the DNA of this company.”
Luckily, she also has the help of a vibrant community: the festival is in large part crowd sourced.
For 2017, the criteria to host a London Tech Week event were simply that it must take place within the M25 boundary, be held between 12-16 June 2017, and be categorised under one of that year’s six agreed topic streams: bsiness, digital disruption, innovation, security, startup & scaleup and diversity.
Events could include networking drinks or dinners, breakfast briefings, workshops, hackathons or codefests, product launches or demonstrations, round tables and more.
In 2017, the festival hosted 219 events and brought together 48,170 attendees; large numbers of them operating quasi-independently with support from Osmond’s team.
Now in its fifth year, it is expected to attract more than 55,000 people, who will attend over 300 events spread across London.
What does putting the event together take?
Her colleague Sam Oakley admits running Tech Week smoothly itself requires more than a little technical effort to weave together its hundreds of different elements and showcase that London remains open.
“It can be a big learning curve bringing everything together; there’s a huge effort from our IT team to build out infrastructure for the programme.”
The formats and styles of the festival’s wide array of events are pleasingly eclectic: “Some are ‘difference led’; some are pure networking; others are more of an interactive format. A complete variety of styles across the week, which makes it the festival that it is!”
As Osmond emphasises: “Emerging trends are the ones you would expect a spotlight on, AI, issues around trust and Blockchain. They are all the big issues that we wrestle with make sure the right content is there for the audiences to network, but also give them the opportunity to learn from it.’’
She notes: ‘’Tech is essentially becoming ubiquitous it is no longer the speciality department. It is now at the heart of all business so there for more and more business are getting involved in the discussions.’’
Attendees have the pick of an eclectic array of events, including mini festivals-within-the-festival like the “TechXLR8” at the London Excel.
This “festival of connected innovation” will see eight events take place: 5G World; Cloud & DevOps World; Internet of Things World Europe; Smart Transportation & Mobility; Digital CX World; AR VR World; Blockchain360 and Project Kairos.
Sam Oakley adds: “The overarching message for London Tech week and TechXLR8 is about change makers using technology for the better of society and business.’’
“Whatever theme we have needs to be vertical agnostic and embrace all different types of business” Zoe Osmond adds.
The two have wide support, not just from headline sponsors like Microsoft or the London Mayor’s office, but from the capital’s sprawling tech community – as well as collaborators further afield.
A report earlier this year from London & Partners; the Mayor of London’s official promotional agency, which co-founded the event, highlights the key learnings over the previous four years the festival has run.
“Work closely with relevant stakeholders across the city (including government bodies local & national); have strong, connected ambassadors, and evelop good working partnerships.”
The report emphasises: “Curation and content need to be clear and defined, and you need to know what outcomes you wish to achieve to ensure the event does not spread and weaken the objectives – legacy and outcomes are key – of reputation building, attracting crowd sourced events, animating the city and longer term foreign direct investment, and attracting and retaining talent.”
Few would deny that between the Festival’s team and their hundreds of co-creators, London Tech Week has proven a winning recipe.
Last year the festival was estimated to contribute £3,615,721 gross value added to London’s economy, with a broader economic benefit to the country calculated at
Perhaps more importantly, it shows that a proudly international city continues to prove a global hub for tech innovation. In line with the Mayor of London’s priorities to “protect and enhance London’s global economic
attributes and competitiveness”
The festival calendar certainly as the Computer Business Review team licking their lips.