Tech City: Top tech boss on future of industry
PUBLISHED: 14:00 12 June 2015 | UPDATED: 14:46 12 June 2015
From hosting roundtable discussions with politicians, speaking at key events and taking international delegates on tours of East London’s tech scene, no day is the same for Tech City UK CEO, Gerard Grech, who describes his role as a “fascinating rollercoaster.”
Tech City UK is a government funded organisation spearheading the national growth of the tech sector.
This includes facing the challenges of ensuring a thriving Tech City head on, introducing schemes that can ease the pressure businesses face, such as working to improve broadband and community access to digital skills.
Mr Grech said: “My role is to help accelerate the growth of digital businesses here in London and across cities in the UK in three ways. We create programmes covering the lifecycle of a digital business, such as Digital Business Academy and the Future Fifty; we provide a direct feedback loop to policymakers and we champion the digital sector domestically and internationally.
“[My day] is always unpredictable and I’ve never been one for predictability. Working in New York, Paris and beyond, I’m imbued with a child like curiosity for rapidly changing industries, disruptive products and creating exciting spaces for creative thinking.
“At Tech City UK, it’s a hybrid of all these things so the structure of my day varies enormously. It’s always a fascinating rollercoaster.
“I’m very passionate about what I do and the team at Tech City UK is like a big family. It’s a genuinely amazing group of people to have the privilege to work alongside.”
Based in Runway East, overlooking the Old Street Roundabout, Mr Grech said he felt “lucky” to be surrounded by entrepreneurs, founders and CEOs from across the spectrum.
He added: “These are international companies based in Hackney creating jobs for local people. It’s an infectiously motivated group of people to be surrounded by each day.”
Mr Grech will be playing a key role in London Technology week this month, speaking at the launch on June 15 and appearing on panels daily.
He said: “London Technology Week is a fantastic opportunity to showcase the depth and breath of our digital sector. Platforms such as this allow us to come together as a community and showcase just how far we have come in a very short time. Tech City has grown exponentially – some estimates point to growth from 250 digital businesses to 3,000 in five years.
“Looking through the themes of the week, from FinTech to data science and EdTech to MedTech, it is clear that London boasts one of the most exciting, diverse and successful digital ecosystems in the world.
“Technology now touches all of us across the capital, from the gamer in her room in Hackney who’s got the next big idea, to the florist who wants to take their business online. This week long event is a chance for us to promote awareness of London’s success across the country and indeed the world – it’s an incredibly compelling story.”
With a view to the future, Mr Grech said he wanted to see the industry continuing its upward trajectory.
He said: “With record levels of investment already this year, building on 2014’s staggering $1.46bn of investment, which was twice what it was in 2013 and 20 times what it was in 2010, we want to ensure that London and the UK becomes the world’s foremost digital powerhouse.
“We want to see more people working in technology businesses. We had four IPOs through the Future Fifty programme in 2014 and we want to build on that benchmark so we can support the most exciting and transformative businesses in the UK reach tech stardom.
“We also want to further connect the beating heart of London with the wider tech ecosystem so we can create a joined up tech proposition based on mutual support and collaboration.
“Finally, we want to make sure thousands more people complete Digital Business Academy courses and use their new skills to make their entrepreneurial dream a reality.
“It’s going to be incredible few months and I can’t wait for the next phase.”