London Tech Week happens from 11-17 June – and in this its fifth year organisers are celebrating tech ventures for good, through a new group of ‘change makers’ and events that highlight the social benefits that come through digital innovation. Julian Blake reports.
Time flies of course, but it’s genuinely hard to fathom that London Tech Week is now in its fifth year. What started in 2014 as a collection of tech events has now grown into an altogether bigger festival. This year’s week is expected to attract close to 60,000 people.
The majority of its 300+ events remain crowdsourced – with more still beyond the official paid-for listings. Some events cost to go, but most are free to get in.
London Tech Week definitely has a new lease of life – and that’s in no small part due to new management, with global events and publishing operator Informa taking on the central organiser role.
Informa has set out to give the week a stronger theme – and for 2018 it is championing ‘change makers’ – companies and people that “challenge the status quo and embrace technology to shape the future”.
“Change makers for us,” explains LTW event director Zoe Osmond, “are all about putting a spotlight on those individuals that use technology to drive transformational change in business, society and life.”
Two-thirds of the 30 lead for-good projects (and are listed below). They include Stemettes founder Anne-Marie Imafidon (pictured), Open Bionics co-founder Samantha Payne and Techmums founder Dr Sue Black.
Many of the change makers will be seen on event platforms across the week, with their agendas on diversity, skills, impact investing, financial inclusion and more well covered.
Is the addition recognition of the greater role that for-good ventures now play in the London digital economy? “Yes, very much so,” says Osmond. “It’s not some flash in the pan – it is something that will continue.”
TechXLR8, tech week’s main expo event at ExCeL, also has the change maker theme at its heart. It happens from Tuesday 12-Thursday 14 June, and its content will emphasise that transformational potential of tech on industry, lives and society.
Other key tech week events include:
No tech week would be complete without its evening parties – and there are events to suit most pockets. Monday 11 June sees the now-annual Prince’s Trust Gala Dinner, a £3.5K-a-table charity affair, while Tuesday June 12 sees Mike Butcher’s Europas, an awards event celebrating Europe’s hottest startups. Last year the Europas put a heavier emphasis on tech-for-good innovation.
For those less able to access the galas, the official Tech Night Party on Wednesday 13 offers an altogether more affordable evening’s entertainment at Shoreditch Town Hall. This features what should be an interesting ‘unicorn rodeo’, with founders testing their staying power on the back of bucking unicorn broncos. Perhaps, given the more purposeful mission of the week overall, we’ll see some bucking zebras too?
£15 gets you entry to the party, a couple of drinks and entertainment. “We want to make sure that everyone can be part of the tech week community rather than just those with big budgets,” says Osmond.
London Tech Week change makers for good
Amali de Alwis, Code First: Girls
Anne-Marie Imafidon, Stemettes (pictured)
Arfah Farooq, Muslamic Makers
Asesh Sarkar, Salary Finance
Becky Sage, Interactive Scientific
Charlene Laidley, Futureproof Foundation
Check Warner, Diversity VC
Fiona Nielsen, DNAdigest/Repositive
Hayley Sudbury, Werkin
Julie Walters, Raremark
Maxine Mackintosh, One Healthtech
Paul van Zyl, The Conduit
Rioch Edwards-Brown, So You Wanna Be In TV?
Samantha Payne, Open Bionics
Sophie Adelman, White Hat
Sophie Deen, Bright Little Labs
Sue Black, Techmums
Tamara Rajah, Live Better With
Tom Fogden, Ada College