July 2021: a month in review

Gerard Grech, July 20, 2021 4 min read

2021 continues to be an exceptional year for tech, and since my last update, we’ve been through a month of significant developments, growth and exciting news. My monthly updates are a mix on what the company has been up to, and what’s been interesting in terms of UK tech news. 

In the same fortnight that we celebrated England reaching the finals of the Euros (for the first time in 55 years!), the UK tech sector also had much to celebrate. Building on last month’s milestone of 100 tech unicorns, more and more companies are IPOing. Our Future Fifty alumni and Fintech Delivery Panel member Wise raised $8bn in its IPO last week; another  example of how the UK fintech scene is thriving, while our FDP member LendInvest confirmed filing for a London IPO at a staggering £255.6 million

It was also revealed last week that London fintech has raised more funding from VC investors in the first 6 months of 2021 than in any other year, demonstrating our capital’s resilience as a hub for digital financial services post-Brexit.

The UK gets to 100 unicorns, what can we expect with the next 200? 

The growth we’re seeing in the UK tech sector is fantastic, and the appearance of so many new ‘unicorns’ and IPOs means more capital in the economy. The question is always what’s next, with every milestone. I’ve gone into detail about my thoughts for how we can continue to power UK tech forward in my article for the Tech Nation blog; ‘Tech unicorns don’t appear by magic’. There, I laid out my three-point plan to finding the UK’s next 100 unicorns; which will involve academic institutions, policymakers and tech business founders working together to drive innovation.

So what’s been happening over the last month? 

Here are a few of my personal highlights from Tech Nation – and the tech sector at large – over the past few weeks: 

An inspiring Asia Tech Week

Last week, Asia Tech x Singapore took place in Singapore, driving conversations across business, tech and government leaders about how we can work together across borders to shape our shared digital future.

During the week, we saw Her Majesty’s Trade Commissioner, Natalie Black and Tech Nation’s Head of International, Sam Evans, take to the virtual stage – alongside representatives from Checkout, Immersive Labs and Golden Gate Ventures – to moderate an inspiring talk about how tech businesses can scale internationally and reach their full global potential.

Asia Tech x Singapore also saw the exciting launch of our new report, ‘Start Here, Scale Here, Stay Here’; a deep dive into why the UK has become one of the best places to build and scale a tech company – for those in the UK and for those overseas. Take a look! 

Navigating the future of finance 

As our ‘Start Here, Scale Here, Stay Here’ report highlights, the UK is a dominant force for fintech among other sectors, with 10% of the global market share. I’m proud to say Tech Nation’s FDP (Fintech Delivery Panel) have been working hard with the British Government’s Treasury department to strengthen the UK’s position as a leader in the future of financial services; delivering strategic projects, such as the world’s first Fintech Pledge and collaboration toolkits, and creating new forums to share best practices for unlocking sector growth.

And just a few days ago, the FDP also held a workshop as part of our Fintech Diversity & Inclusion series, this time with a focus on company culture. Delivered by award-winning consultancy The Unmistakables, the workshop gave attendees the information and next steps needed to grow the focus and action on D&I within their organisations, and build more inclusive tech businesses that help all employees thrive. 

Introducing Tech Nation’s LawtechUK Report

Last week also saw another hugely exciting announcement for Tech Nation, with the launch of the LawtechUK Report – shaping the future of law. Through sector data, trends and analysis, as well as insights, opinion and case studies from leaders and experts from across the sector, the report highlighted the £22bn annual market opportunity for lawtech across legal services and business and identifies seven priorities needed to shape and accelerate this transformation through tech.

In particular, the LawtechUK Report emphasised the importance of digitally-enabled legal services to the UK, underpinning society, business and consumer activities, economic recovery post-pandemic, and the strength of the UK on the global stage. 

UN’s Race to Zero and tech with purpose  

Last week, I had the delight of moderating Sifted’s virtual panel, ‘Tech for good: How to set up a social enterprise’, where we heard from the inspiring Ravi Gurumurthy (CEO of Nesta), Celia Hodson (Founder of Hey Girls), and Dr Marilyn Comrie OBE (Director of The Blair Project) about the things that fledgling social and sustainability entrepreneurs need to know when starting up their own businesses, as well as the power tech has to help solve societal and environmental challenges. 

This motivating panel took place just after two other very exciting announcements about the Tech Zero Pledge; an initiative to help tech companies set an ambitious net zero target by the end of 2021. The Tech Zero Taskforce, of which Tech Nation is proud to be a founding member, has now become an official partner organisation to the UN Climate Change’s Race to Zero, and will expand internationally in the months to come.

In other exciting Tech Zero news, we’re also creating the Tech Zero internship, a world-first opportunity for young people to learn skills that will help them in a green tech career. Interns will spend time at the UK’s most exciting tech companies, working on net zero and sustainability projects, and helping us tackle the most pressing challenge of our time. 

Supporting the next generation of tech leaders: Advance 2.0 – our 2nd cohort takes new applicants

One challenge we have found working with scale-ups is training up managers who need to scale as quickly as the company. Which is why we launched a new program called Advance: Scaling Leaders, a new, hands-on leadership course. Led by experienced scaling leaders, the ten-week course helps first-time leaders conquer common growth challenges, and learn how to get the best from their teams through real-life examples, in a supportive, high-trust environment.

To see this in action, take a look at our recent deep dive into the learnings from one of our recent Advance: Scaling Leaders sessions on the importance of values in a scaling tech company. If someone you know could benefit from learning from others in a similar position to them, feel free to have them sign up here

A nation of innovation

Finally,  do watch out for the UK Government’s new Innovation Strategy paper being published this Thursday (July 24th), which will aim to outline the key areas where the UK will focus on in terms of meeting its R&D expenditure target. Expect focus to be given to science, deep technology and the commercialisation of research based projects. Until next month!