The UK startup scene in 2018 can best be described by two trends: public sector collaboration and the desire to deliver innovation for social good.
Since the Government’s Industrial Strategy was published in November 2017, there has been a strong focus on bringing start-ups and small businesses into the public sector to provide innovative solutions to specific social challenges.
For example, five start-ups have been awarded contacts through the GovTech Catalyst Fund to tackle rural isolation and loneliness, while the Government’s Accelerated Access Partnership Rapid Assembly Products program has funded seven new treatments.
This includes a non-invasive, AI-assisted cardiac test pioneered by US meditech company HeartFlow, which has been deployed in 28 NHS hospitals over the past six months.
Furthermore, the gender imbalance in London’s tech sector is reflected in the desire to create for social good through the creation of accelerator programs such as We in Social Tech, which support female-led start-ups.
Also, many groups and individuals in this space have taken this push for social good.
Tim Berners-Lee, creator of the World Wide Web, founded Inrupt, a startup that aims to give people more control over their personal data, while innovation center Digital Catapult has released an ethical framework for artificial intelligence and machine learning, which is tailored specifically. To help beginners adopt ethical practices from day one.
Despite these major trends, there are many barriers to effective startup engagement in the public sector, and despite the focus on social benefit and ethics in the broader debate, it is only a matter of time before these practices become widely adopted.
1. The Police Tech report looks at how start-ups can work with UK police.
In a report published by the public, former number 10 assistant Daniel Korsky, an organization dedicated to bridging the gap between the public and private sectors, looked at 75 of the most innovative police techniques.
The report focuses on how SMEs can create relationships in the public sector and looks at their potential to change how policing works in the UK.
Given the importance of public trust to police legitimacy, the accountability and ethics of private organizations and their solutions are issues that deserve more attention, especially given recent revelations about the Metropolitan Police’s use of the Gang Matrix. Use of technology and data.
2. The father of the web founded a startup to give people more control over their data
In the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Tim Berners-Lee decided to launch his own startup, Inrupt, to support an open source platform that allows users to choose how and where their data is stored.
Berners-Lee has been critical of websites like Facebook and Google for their handling of users’ personal data.
The platform, called Solid, basically works like a secure digital USB that can be accessed from anywhere. Inrupt is expected to provide the corporate infrastructure for the platform to grow.
3. We launched a startup accelerator led by women in social tech
A new accelerator program for women-led companies has been launched, with the aim of tackling the gender imbalance in the tech sector, turning this year’s startups into social good.
We at Social Tech will support the growth of 60 businesses over the next 18 months using Business Mentoring Packages, access to industry mentors, matching startups based on individual needs and a free co-working space.
The rapid adoption of ‘social-tech’ reflects the realization that consumers, especially young people, want to buy from organizations they agree with and trust.
4. Digital Catapult has launched its first ever ethical framework.
In October, the Innovation Center Digital Catapult unveiled its first ethical framework that it says will promote the adoption of ethical standards by organizations developing artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies.
The framework focuses primarily on initiatives that are more accessible than adopting ethical practices that are not supported by the woodworking heritage system.
Digital Catapult has also established an ethics committee consisting of a working group and a steering group to help startups navigate the framework and develop best practices.
5. AI-powered cardiac screening will be rolled out through the NHS with government support.
HeartFlow is a US-based medical technology (medtech) company whose non-invasive, AI-powered cardiac diagnostics enable clinics to accurately diagnose various heart conditions.
According to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), the technology could save the NHS up to £214 per patient, which is £9m a year.
It has been deployed in 28 NHS hospitals over the past six months and has been supported by funding from the Government’s Accelerated Access Partnership Rapid Collection Products programme, which seeks to encourage the uptake of innovative treatments across the NHS.
6. The Department of Transportation has announced plans to increase spending on small businesses.
In August, the Department for Transport released an action plan to increase spending with small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
The Department’s aim is to increase spending over the next few years, with 29% of spending on SMEs by the end of this financial year and 33% by 2022.
The plan, although behind the government’s overall plan to spend 33% on SMEs by 2020, highlights the renewed importance of SMEs and start-ups in the public sector, which are seen as critical to creating better opportunities in the supply chain.
7. Oslo became a center for social startups.
The desire to do social good isn’t limited to UK startups, Norway’s capital Oslo now thrives on exceptional business agility, cultural acceptance of technology and, of course, a social desire to do good.
Most people Computer Week spoke to about Oslo’s tenure said the 2008 financial crash drove many away from Norway’s traditional industries, such as oil, gas, fishing and shipping, and into new business areas.
This diversity has spurred innovation, with many now using their talents instead to focus on solving social problems with technology.
8. The Department of Education used an open data competition for startups to create new student services
The Government will award up to £300,000 to two businesses that develop a prototype technology project as part of the Department for Education’s Higher Education Open Data Competition.
The competition was launched in the summer of 2018 to encourage small companies to use open data to create new digital services to help students choose the best higher education path for them.
Five technology companies participated and the two winners were scheduled to be announced before the end of the year. Again, this story shows the government’s desire to bring small, capital-owned companies into the public sector, which is expected to bring more innovation to the space.
9. The government has announced plans for a startup visa
At London Tech Week, the Prime Minister announced the launch of a “start-up visa” for entrepreneurs in spring 2019.
According to data from TechNation, a new digital technology job is created every 50 minutes in the UK and the sector employs 2.1 million people.
The Prime Minister said the measures would “allow innovative British start-ups to invest in their future – and the UK’s – by hiring more talented people, expanding their businesses and taking their knowledge to the world”.
The visa is said to be open to “talented business entrepreneurs”.
10. The UK ranks first in creating billion dollar technology companies
A study by TechNation published in October found that the UK is producing more billion-dollar tech start-ups than any other European country.
While London is the center of the startup scene, home to 36 of the UK’s 60 unicorns, the survey shows that even regional cities are competing head-to-head with many European capitals.
This means that despite the uncertainty of Brexit, tech investment in the UK shows no signs of slowing and there are a number of tech hubs flourishing outside the capital.