What’s the Buzz? From the sharing of personal data to the use of AI to fight crime.

From the sharing of personal data to the use of AI to fight crime, recent events have brought us some truly fascinating technological innovations and developments. As we move into a new season, we look back at some of the biggest stories coming out of the UK’s thriving tech scene over the past few weeks.
‘Hotting’ up – surging temperatures and start-up funding

With less than a year until Brexit is due, there remains some uncertainty about how easy it will be for UK organisations to do business internationally. However, any doubts around the UK tech market’s potential for success was eased by a huge funding surge in UK tech start-ups.

Law firm Pennington Manches reported that 2017 was the first year Silicon Valley invested over a billion-pounds into the UK. Investments have in fact increased by 252% since 2011. To see such a drive in funding is a hugely positive sign – showing that the UK remains an attractive market despite some uncertainty. The expertise Silicon Valley investors bring will of course also help tech business thrive in the near and long-term.

Investment bring a huge buzz to any sector, though our advice to clients is always to approach with caution. Although investment is hugely attractive and often inspiring, it’s vital that scale-ups don’t get carried away and rush into accepting the first offer, or indeed rush into using the investment they get. Considering the right investment and funding for their business is fundamental to achieving sustained success. UK tech businesses must focus on finding the right investment that addresses their future ambitions – whether that is to be the next fast-boom unicorn or build slower but stable growth.

For more information about Silicon Valley investment in the UK, check out our partner Silicon Valley Comes to the UK (SVC2UK) which brings together CEOs, students, investors and entrepreneurs from the UK and Silicon Valley to discuss issues around ground-breaking technologies.

Knuckling down on crime, AI style

Whether you’re scrolling through a social timeline or flicking through the morning paper or newsfeed, it didn’t take long to find AI-related news in April and with the technology now set to be used to help combat financial crime, the impact of intelligent machines is very much on the agenda.

A few weeks ago, HSBC announced its plans to use Quantexa’s AI software to monitor and combat money laundering. The bank will work with Quantexa to rollout the software, which will scan financial transaction data to pick up suspicious activity such as laundering, fraud and terrorist funding. The technology will ultimately allow HSBC to comply with regulations, combat fraud and cut costs built up from tackling fraud.

This latest partnership shows how prevalent tech is becoming in many aspects of business, more specifically AI. HSBC is just one of the many businesses to announce how they are deploying the technology to enhance efficiency. Whether a tech giant or scale-up, AI has huge potential to offer powerful solutions.

R&D still needs more funding

R&D funding is a great way to help businesses grow and achieve long-term success. Whether researching a new product or a new process or way of working, investment in R&D within technology specifically is often the deciding factor between success and failure.

With that in mind, the UK tech community will be glad to know that R&D is on the rise in the UK. Innovate UK’s assessment of the ONS statistics showed that funding has been growing since 2005 – a positive sign for all in the sector.

Although it should be said that those figures are less impressive when compared to GDP growth which the two factors showing very little correlation. To help address this, the government’s Industrial Strategy has already set out the aim that overall R&D funding would reach 2.4% of gross domestic product (GDP) within the next 10 years.

Funding will be extremely important to allow organisations to prioritise and get the most out of R&D, and in such a face-paced tech environment this is essential for growth. Its vital businesses know what options are available to them for R&D funding, and particularly in the context of Brexit, making the right choice may be more important than ever before.

Is Britain ready to lead the AI race?

Britain is home to many successful AI specialists, such as BenevolentAI, the British start-up that collects and analyses biomedical information to speed up drug development and was recently valued at £1.4billion. In fact the UK AI market as a whole is going from strength to strength and our potential as a true leader in the first cannot be ignored.

The recent report conducted by the House of Lords laid out the many potential positives AI can bring to the country financially and socially if the technology is developed, implemented and supported correctly.
Acknowledging the importance of AI for our future society, the report recommends a growth fund for SMEs working in the space. And within weeks, the government revealed their plans for a £1bn drive into AI which includes £35m dedicated to scale-ups.

Investing in AI is key for Britain’s future position as a leading innovator. The recent announcements will also be vital in helping the government meet its estimate that AI could generate 232 billion pounds in the UK.

For any businesses working in AI, the funding is a huge opportunity of course. AI is a hot space which is drawing huge interest from businesses and the public alike. To maximise this potential, businesses of all sizes need to drive themselves forward, ensuring they have detailed, long-term plans in place to make sure they are not a “flash in the pan”.

Events

Last Thursday I spent the afternoon with a group of up and coming FinTech firms in an accounting clinic. The aim was to help them prep for the FinTech Circle pitching event which is to be hosted this week on the 21st June. We particularly love hosting this sort of event as we get to hear from incredibly innovative entrepreneurs about the exciting businesses that they’re striving to grow. As events like these usually draw a large crowd of potential investors, the evening is set to be really buzzy. We look forward to quick pitching rounds, lively Q&A’s and hopefully successful pitches.
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