London Tech Week

Brid-Aine Parnell

Friday 29 May 2015

In a packed global events schedule, London Technology Week aims to stand out as the technology festival that caters to everyone from CIOs to schoolkids.

The sheer number of global technology events held every year could keep a CIO occupied for the full 365 days. From long-running events like Mobile World Congress and the Consumer Electronics Show to new kids on the block like Web Summit, every niche and sector is covered by conferences, exhibitions, tradeshows and seminars.

So, when you decide to come up with a new technology event, there has to be something unique about it that can help it rapidly become a not-to-be-missed fixture on the tech scene. This is exactly what events organiser UBM EMEA set out to do with the inaugural London Technology Week last year.

“We’re very much global; we’re one of the two largest events organising companies in the world and, in the US, we have a very big, very well-established IT events business, with some key brands such as InteropBlack Hat and Games Developer Conference, to name but a few,” explains Adrian Newton, group director for aviation and technology at UBM EMEA.

“And we have had tech in the UK for a number of years, but it was more line-of-business technology, tech for marketing, ecommerce, etc.”

The diverse festival

Knowing they already had great conferences and events running in the US, UBM EMEA wanted to bring some of those to the UK, but when they spoke to potential partners in London, the firm soon realised that its British tech event should be something a little different.

“There’s so much going on here; some great businesses have European headquarters here, and there’s a great start-up scene around what used to be Silicon Roundabout and is now Tech City. So we thought: ‘Wouldn’t it be great to really put London on the European and global map, in the same way as London Fashion Week did for fashion?’”

London Technology Week isn’t a single event, it’s any event that any organiser or business wants to arrange, large or small, aimed at any subsection, level or niche of the tech world. UBM EMEA, of course, has conferences like Interop and Black Hat running during the week.

“We wanted everyone who was running exciting events already to come together with us and do something that would really champion tech,” says Newton. “We also wanted businesses and organisations that don’t see themselves as events organisers to think: ‘Why don’t we do a roundtable? Why don’t we do a showcase or an open house that can show what we do?’”

Bigger and better

Russ Shaw, founder of Tech London Advocates, a partner to the event, reckons that London Technology Week is unique.

“Hundreds of events will be taking place across the city, covering themes from diversity to data, gaming to gadgets. No other tech event demonstrates the extent to which digital is now embedded into our city,” he declares.

Last year, the inaugural London Technology Week covered 203 events across the city and was attended by 40,000 people. This year, Newton hopes, will be bigger still.

“I’ve spent twenty years working in events, and this has proved to be one of the most exciting projects in the way that, overnight, an organisation can suddenly say: ‘You know what, I’m going to do an event in a couple of weeks’ time!’ This sector is so agile that the speed at which things can evolve is almost scary! What we really found last year was that, in the last couple of months, hundreds of events started popping out,” he continues.

Who’s who at London Technology Week

Every kind of event, from demos to clinics to conferences, pop up at London Technology Week, alongside a list of speakers at the London Technology Week Arena hosted by Interop. The full line-up will keep evolving right up to event kick-off, but Newton has some confirmed highlights.

“We’ve got Jacqueline de Rojas, deputy president of Tech UK and VP and general manager of Citrix in Northern Europe, we’ve got the CEO of Cisco for UK and Ireland, Phil Smith, we’ve got Joel Spolsky, co-founder and CEO of StackExchange, Lord Wei of Shoreditch and Dan Cobley, CEO of Brightbridge Ventures, all speaking in the arena,” he announces.

Putting all these events under the same umbrella is great for attendees, but also for businesses big or small  whether they’re London, UK or global organisations, according to Newton.

“What was great to hear from one of our event organisers who runs events throughout the year was that their event during London Tech Week doubled its attendees compared to events at other times. Another guy told us that he didn’t do any of his own marketing for the event, he just did it all on the Tech Week website and it sold out in a week.

“By being part of London Tech Week they’re assured of broadcast media and broadsheets coming to what is, at the end of the day, a tradeshow. That shows the fantastic difference that being part of London Tech Week can make to any organiser,” he concludes.

It certainly seems like this year’s London Technology Week will be building on the success of last year’s inaugural event. A regular fixture that’s no doubt set to run and run.

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