The hottest tech trends in London

Faith Merino · November 1, 2013 · Short URL:

What sectors are seeing the most growth? We asked a group of London investors.

We’re hopping the pond next week. Yup, on November 7, we’ll be hosting our first ever Vator Splash London event. So we thought we’d check out the tech scene there to find out what’s going on.

If you haven't already purchased your ticket, you should (before they jump at the door)!

London is already home to a bevy of hot startups, including song identifier Shazam, cab hailing service Hailo, social chat platform Badoo, and gaming company Mind Candy. While the city has yet to see its first billion-dollar tech company, it’s taking steps to reach that goal. Back in December, Prime Minister David Cameron announced a £50 million investment in London’s Tech City, which covered the cost of building co-working spaces, classrooms, and workshops.

And to funnel more dollars into supporting seed-stage companies (where the innovation really happens), the UK government recently put forth the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme: a tidy little bundle of tax breaks for those who invest in seed-stage companies (Ex: no capital gains tax on returns, and 50% off an income tax bill).
So what sectors have the biggest growth potential in London right now? We talked to VCs and angel investors alike, including Nic Brisbourne of Forward Investment Partners, Simon Walker from Taylor Wessing, Laurence Garrett from Highland Capital Partners and Jon Bradford from TechStars. And here are the hottest sectors in London:

Games: There’s obviously MindCandy, but the gaming segment is growing. Earlier this month, Chinese mobile gaming firm Rekoo chose London for its European operations. The company has 20 million daily active users worldwide and has plans to hire 25 employees for its London office.

Advertising: London’s ad tech scene includes companies like social video marketing company Unruly Media, which raised $25 million last year. Some other promising startups popped up at this year’s Ad:Tech London event, including analytical marketing service Adinnovation, Avocarrot, which seeks to replace banner ads on mobile devices with rewards and coupons, and more.

Consumer health: Health tech in London is a growing segment, particularly where the Quantified Self is concerned (Social Media Week London had an entire panel devoted exclusively to the Quantified Self in September). London is also home to health tech accelerator HealthBox, which has locations in Chicago, Boston, and London. Accepted startups receive £75,000 in seed capital, and mentorship from leaders across a wide array of health categories, including government, health information, technology, pharmacy, healthcare providers, and more.

Fashion: London is home to a rising cluster of companies combining fashion and technology, including WonderLuk, which brings customization to fashion using 3D printing and cloud computing, Upper Street, which allows customers to design their own made-to-order footwear, and Silkfred, a company that helps emerging designers and businesses find online and offline routes to market.

Mobile: Obviously. But discovery apps and transportation apps are a rising star in London. Apps like YPlan, which curates nearby events and things to do, and urban transit app Citimapper are making a big splash with Londoners. 

And here’s what some of London’s top investors had to say about what they see on the horizon:

Nic Brisbourne on the future of London startups: “Many of the companies will leverage robotics, and other advanced manufacturing techniques to deliver high quality and highly personalised experiences. Many of the products will incorporate artificial intelligence and/or connectivity.”

Laurence Garrett on what Highland looks for: “Hot spotting is great fun but we are solely focused on finding entrepreneurs to partner with who are experiencing incredible growth. In essence, we look for strong momentum where companies are seeing sales growth greater than 50% YOY and often at 100%. In the last 12 months we have made new investments in NewVoiceMedia, MatchesFashion, GetYourGuide and Talentsoft.”

Jon Bradford on what's hot in London: “Everything.” 


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