What investors need to know about tech startups in the UK and Europe?


At gigCMO, we work with startups and scale-ups, providing commercial marketing leadership and execution to help founders and CEOs realise revenue goals. The vibrant tech community in the UK is an inspiring space for investors, innovators, entrepreneurs and those interested in enabling a prosperous future in the UK, Europe and worldwide. Recently, we attended the Investor Showcase 4.0 event at the Here East media complex in the Olympic Park as leaders discussed the current state and future of the tech industry.

Tech London Advocates, who organise Investor Showcase 4.0, consists of more than 15,000 advocates who volunteer their time to campaign for the future of London tech. In insightful presentations, keynote speeches and fireside discussions, they presented a landscape ripe with opportunity for investors and business owners.

The event was introduced and hosted by Ben Thompson from BBC News before Russ Shaw CBE, who founded Tech London Advocates, discussed the landscape in the UK, highlighting how far London has come since the first dot com crisis in terms of developing an ecosystem in which technology can flourish. Then Gavin Poole, CEO of Here East London, delivered an inspiring keynote speech that drew insightfully on his experience working within government and the political environment.

The investment landscape for London tech

The event was divided into two sections, with two panels commenting on different topics.

The first session focused on the investment landscape in London technology and the opportunities it offers for investors. It began with a keynote speech by Henry Whorwood from Beauhurstone of the best data sources on UK private companies, providing a clear picture of the investment landscape.

An interesting comment during a discussion on Silicon Valley Bank is that the desire to emulate Silicon Valley itself has largely evaporated as different communities explore their own paths. Investment in UK technology is heavily focused on AI and fintech. However, with AI being such an all-encompassing space, there's clear scope for that to divide into key sub-elements and specialist areas. 

Importantly, when looking at investment performance, very few companies were considered 'dead' or 'zombie' companies, indicating a healthy market where unicorns and young businesses are making successful strides. Contrary to what some may have us believe, the UK and European technology industry is not a horror story good news for investors. 

The Race to Net Zero

Whorwood's insights were followed by an exploration of opportunities in clean energy startups, looking at what they need to scale in the race to Net Zero. In particular, we heard from Tong Gu, a Founding Partner at Pact VC, an all-women-led VC for mission-driven startups. 

This part of the event was hosted by Avery Johnstone, an Associate in KPMG's Global Decarbonization Hub, which seeks to help organisations reach net zero by 2050. 

The future of tech investment in the UK

The second session focused on industry issues and barriers to progress. Stephen Nundy from Lakestar, known for partnering with some of the world's best tech entrepreneurs, raised an articulate discussion on tech sovereignty. He noted that while the major players in technology have traditionally been in America and China, the UK and Europe have made a concerted effort to 'grow up' in this space, seeing private investment in infrastructure and the growth of a pool of talent, capital and ambition - the trifecta for business growth and success.

However, as things stand, much of the investment goes back into American banks. There's an opportunity here for European-based companies to redress that balance. We have seen this shift in Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's recently launched plans to cement the UK's place as a science and technology superpower by 2030. Setting the UK up to compete in a similar capacity to the US and Chinese governments in the country's tech industry, in March, he pledged over £370 million in new government funding to boost infrastructure, investment and skills for the UK's most exciting growing technologies, from quantum and supercomputing through to AI. 

The event was rounded off with a forward-looking mindset. Anne Glover CBE, CEO and co-founder of Amadeus Capital and appointed Non-Executive Director in the Court of Directors of the Bank of England in 2018, discussed what 2023 would look like for tech investment. Meanwhile, a panel including Saul Klein, Non-Executive Director at LocalGlobe, explored the diversity question and how tech can help grow communities. The data, expertise and rationale presented an exciting opportunity for those with the talent, willingness and appetite to thrive - just like our clients. 

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