The UK government formally triggered Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty on March 29, signaling the start of formal negotiations for Britain to leave the EU.
(Unless you have been living under a rock, you undoubtedly know this.)
In an anecdote that I swear is related, the humble kangaroo – the unofficial symbol of Australia – cannot jump backwards. It can only, physically, jump forwards.
So, let’s be kangaroos. Let’s find the opportunities and openings. They’re there. And if you’re a start-up in FinTech, it could start with the UK Digital Strategy.
The UK Digital Strategy
The government’s long-awaited UK Digital Strategy was released last month and detailed how the UK will innovate and nurture tech talent to provide a robust post-Brexit infrastructure across many facets of the country. It contained several goals, including:
- building a world-class digital infrastructure
- helping every British business become a digital business
- unlocking the power of data in the UK economy and improving public confidence in its use
- building a safe and secure cyberspace
FinTech – in its numerous and variable forms – will naturally underpin much of this, with the government looking in particular at solutions based in blockchain and artificial intelligence. Indeed, the UK is relying on FinTech to drive its post-Brexit economy and innovation. But government can be a notoriously difficult nut to crack, so what does the UK Digital Strategy mean in practice for start-ups looking to tap into these initiatives? Here are a few ways in:
FinTech Week UK 2017
A UK-government sponsored FinTech Week will take place in April, with the Innovate Finance Global Summit on April 10th and 11th. This summit “will convene the start-ups, investors, regulators and institutions shaping the global FinTech agenda.” With over 2000 expected attendees, 100 speakers, the inaugural Pitch360 demos and Innovate Finance’s 300+ member companies, the summit aims to bring the global FinTech community together in London. Apply to attend here.
Bank of England FinTech Accelerator
The Strategy lists the Bank of England FinTech accelerator as an essential component of its programme to create a robust financial infrastructure. Created in 2016 to help harness FinTech innovations for central banking, the Bank of England recently chose two start-ups for its proof-of-concept programme, one in blockchain to demonstrate the synchronised movement of two different currencies across two different real-time gross settlement systems and one in AI to detects anomalies in financial transactions (it’s worth mentioning that neither start-ups are from the UK, but from the US and Canada). The Bank has announced that the next competition round will open some time this spring – follow their Twitter or LinkedIn accounts for updates.
Digital Catapult Centre
The Catapult Programme is “a network of world-leading centres designed to transform the UK’s capability for innovation in specific areas and help drive future economic growth.” Four Digital Catapult Centres across the UK are part of this, driving “growth in the UK economy through the practical application of digital innovation and culture.”
It runs a number of events, including open calls for applications on a range of innovations including IoT, data, retail and more. It also convenes what it calls “pit stops,” a highly focused open innovation activity designed to accelerate the growth of new ideas, which includes start-ups, SMEs, academics and innovators. The Centres are located in Brighton, Northern Ireland, NETV, and Yorkshire. Check out their website for more information.
These are just a sampling of the initiatives that will foster new technology and innovation in the UK. Across government, private and public sector, and investment, there are still a range of opportunities for start-ups in FinTech – and indeed, in any tech – to make their mark.
Onwards, upwards, and forwards.
Are you a start-up in FinTech, blockchain, and/or AI? Get in touch!