Press release

PM urges tech leaders to grasp generational opportunities and challenges of AI

The UK must act quickly if we want to retain our position as one of the world’s tech capitals, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will tell tech leaders today [Monday 12 June].

London Tech Week 2023.

  • The UK will be “the best place in the world to start, grow and invest in tech businesses”, Prime Minister pledges today, as key driver of economic growth
  • Addressing tech leaders at the opening of London Tech Week, he will set out challenges and opportunities of AI ahead of global summit hosted by the UK this autumn
  • This kicks off week of cross-Government activity to showcase and support UK’s thriving tech sector

The UK must act quickly if we want to retain our position as one of the world’s tech capitals, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will tell tech leaders today [Monday 12 June].

Speaking at the launch of the tenth London Tech Week, the Prime Minister will argue that as the “tectonic plates of technology are shifting”, the UK must harness innovation to become the best place for tech businesses to invest and grow, in turn growing the economy and creating jobs.

With world-leading universities, more tech unicorns than France and Germany combined, and one of the most digitally literate societies in the world, the Prime Minister will make clear that the UK is starting from a position of strength, outlining how Government will work with businesses to capitalise on the opportunities presented by transformative technologies, such as AI.

From building one of the most pro-investment tax regimes, to committing almost a fifth of our entire capital budget to R&D – the highest level this country has ever seen – and investing record sums in building our quantum capability, the Prime Minister will underline his commitment to creating the right conditions for innovators to thrive.

The Prime Minister is expected to tell tech leaders:

We must act – and act quickly – if we want not only to retain our position as one of the world’s tech capitals …

… but to go even further, and make this the best country in the world to start, grow and invest in tech businesses.

That is my goal. And I feel a sense of urgency and responsibility to make sure we seize it.

Already home to the largest tech economy in Europe, he will reinforce that the tech sector is at the heart of his priority to grow the economy.

Together with Ministers from across Government, responsible for nurturing and attracting talent, driving world-class research and unlocking investment, he will set out their shared mission to help the UK’s tech eco-system flourish at the launch of London Tech Week.

Part of this effort is represented by Government’s decision to introduce High Potential Individual, Global Talent and Scale-up Worker visas. These routes are designed to attract the best and brightest global talent and will encourage academics and professionals to share their knowledge, skills and ideas in the UK, and make a positive contribution to the economy.

Following his announcement that the UK will host the first major global summit on AI safety later this year, the Prime Minister will also stress the UK’s leadership as a democratic AI power – already home to top AI labs, including DeepMind.

This has been recognised globally by like-minded countries and partners, who have agreed to work together to mitigate the risks through internationally coordinated action. The UK’s expert taskforce on AI foundation models, backed by £100 million in Government funding, will lead on cutting-edge AI safety in the UK.

During his speech, the Prime Minister will outline the opportunities AI presents as well as the need to ensure its development remains safe and responsible. That includes bringing together academia, leading tech companies and Government to deliver the benefits that will improve people’s lives.

The Prime Minister will say:

Already we’ve seen AI help the paralysed to walk; and discover superbug-killing antibiotics – and that’s just the beginning.

“…The possibilities are extraordinary. But we must – and we will – do it safely.

“…I want to make the UK not just the intellectual home, but the geographical home of global AI safety regulation.”

The Prime Minister will continue to host key tech businesses and entrepreneurs at Downing Street throughout London Tech Week, while Government Ministers will promote and discuss how we are supporting the UK’s tech sector with stakeholders at events including panel sessions and speeches.

Poppy Gustafsson, CEO of Darktrace, said:

The tenth year of London Tech Week is going to be the most exciting so far. AI will be at the centre of the agenda and that should give UK tech plenty to be happy about. We’re home to unrivalled AI talent, incredible academic institutions like the Turing Institute, and businesses, like Darktrace, that have track records of developing and delivering world-leading AI. The UK is in a great position to be at the forefront of the AI revolution. I see that every day in our teams in Cambridge who are working at the very forefront of these technological innovations. I’m excited to see this country leaning in on this agenda and actively looking to capitalise on the tremendous opportunities that this creates.

Divesh Makan, Founding Partner, ICONIQ Capital:

At ICONIQ, we believe that technology isn’t a vertical but rather a horizontal that cuts across all businesses and aspects of our daily lives. We have seen remarkable advances in artificial intelligence, cloud storage and analytics, healthcare, and the software underlying everything drive massive transformations across sectors and society. And now, as we celebrate the 10th anniversary of London Tech Week and consider the opportunities and challenges ahead, one thing is clear: the future is arriving faster than anyone expected. Under Prime Minister Sunak’s leadership, the UK’s tech community will continue to play a vital role in creating a better tomorrow for everyone.

Vishal Marria, CEO of Quantexa, said:

The UK is home to some of the world’s top tech talent and has created several of the world’s most innovative technology companies. Quantexa, an AI-driven decision intelligence company based in London, is a great example of the power of British innovation in action. In just seven years, the company has achieved a valuation of £1.5bn, employs over 650 people globally, and supports tens of thousands of users in some of the world’s largest organizations on its platform for risk management, customer insights, and data unification.

As a British entrepreneur, I am encouraged by this government’s commitment to investing in emerging disciplines such as quantum computing and artificial intelligence and its determination to ensure that the UK tech market continues to thrive by taking a “pro-innovation” approach to much-needed regulation.

Our growing London tech ecosystem and our government share a vision for building on our heritage of innovation in a fiercely competitive global economy. To achieve its goal of becoming a science and technology superpower, the UK must actively nurture this growing sector and make decisive, strategic investments that stimulate innovation.

Charlie Bryant, CEO at Zoopla, said:

As one of the first British tech unicorns, Zoopla is delighted to be part of the remarkable growth of London and the UK as the tech capital of Europe. The foundations that have built this leading role include the UK’s position as a global hub for tech talent, the depth of capital and London’s global city status which creates an attractive environment for inward investment. I believe the UK will continue to pave the way when it comes to tech innovation in Europe.

Demis Hassabis, CEO & CO-Founder, Google DeepMind, said:

AI will play a critical role in shaping the future of our economy and society. I’m looking forward to talking about this with the Prime Minister at London Tech Week.

Janet Coyle CBE, Managing Director of Grow London at London & Partners, said:

Over the past decade, the UK has established itself as a leading destination to setup and scale a technology business. The tenth anniversary of London Tech Week offers a great opportunity to showcase our success and discuss how we can continue to be a top tech hub on the global stage. This year’s event promises to be bigger than ever and it’s exciting to see how many international delegations will be coming into London to explore investment and expansion opportunities in our capital.

Carolyn Dawson OBE, CEO, Founders Forum Group:

The UK tech ecosystem is uniting to celebrate the 10th London Tech Week, the largest in its history. Global delegates will be part of the 17,000 people taking part in this iconic event. The UK can excel in the industries of the future, from deeptech to fintech, sustainability and life sciences, there are so many competitive advantages at our disposal. We are evermore excited that London Tech Week serves as a platform to amplify this position for the UK on a global stage and is proud to connect the ecosystem of innovators, entrepreneurs and investors together to drive positive change through technology.

Erin Platts, CEO, Silicon Valley Bank UK.

Embracing the UK’s innovators and investors, and enabling their bold ideas is more important than ever to our long-term economic prosperity. The Prime Minister’s support for the UK’s innovation reflects the government’s commitment to making the UK a global innovation leader. We’re excited for the optimism and ambition demonstrated everyday by our tech ecosystem and we welcome pledges for the UK to become an innovation superpower by 2030. This is a clear vote of confidence for the UK’s tech and life sciences industries and I’m confident we can achieve this through ongoing collaboration between industry and government.

Taavet Hinrikus, Co-founder, Wise and Co-founder, Plural, said:

London is one of the best places in the world to build a tech company. This extraordinary ecosystem is what helped me grow my company Wise and it’s why we chose to found Plural here last year to support the next generation of entrepreneurs who are building global companies to solve difficult problems.

Joanna Shields, CEO of Benevolent AI, said:

At BenevolentAI, we have first-hand experience applying AI’s transformative potential. We harness the power of LLMs and other AI models to empower scientists and expedite innovation in biopharma. In domains as complex as life sciences, it is imperative to deploy AI safely and responsibly. We have a limited opportunity to take action, and I am delighted that the UK Government is treating this matter seriously by announcing the formation of a task force and an AI Summit scheduled for this fall. These crucial initiatives serve as a solid foundation, and now it is essential for both the public and private sectors to collaborate closely to tackle this monumental challenge and position the UK at the forefront of AI regulation.

T S Anil, CEO of Monzo, said:

As the UK’s biggest digital bank with more than 7.5m customers, we are an example of how technology can improve people’s lives, and drive economic growth. The UK is a top destination for fintech companies and home to some of the most interesting and innovative scaling businesses. That leading position will be maintained by retaining and evolving the UK’s world class regulatory system, as well as helping to attract and develop the best talent, and we welcome policy measures and initiatives that support that.

Zahra Bahrololoumi, CEO of Salesforce UK&I, said:

At Salesforce, we recognise the transformative power of generative AI, including its influence in securing and maintaining the UK’s status as a global technology leader. We strongly welcome the PM’s announcement to host a global AI summit this autumn and commitment to make the UK the centre of gravity on AI safety. This is a watershed moment for our industry and it is imperative that AI is developed safely and responsibly, with ethics and inclusivity at the heart. A trust-first evolution is crucial for future success.

Kristo Käärmann, CEO and co-founder, Wise:

The UK is where we started our journey 12 years ago to achieve money without borders and make the world’s money faster, cheaper, easier, and more transparent for people and businesses. Connecting directly to the Bank of England and into the UK’s Faster Payments Scheme was one of our first big steps forward in achieving this mission. That enabled us to deliver faster, and cheaper payments for our customers in the UK. That the UK was the first country in which we were able to get there is testament to the forward looking approach of its institutions. Today we serve 16 million people and businesses around the world by building the best infrastructure for the world’s money and the tech that’s enabled us to do that was built here.

Published 12 June 2023