Watch the live panel debate here

In honour of Business Leader Tech Month, sponsored by VWV, we’ve assembled some of the most influential names in the UK tech sector for a very special panel discussion on the state of the industry, its future and much, much more.

According to a 2018 report, 26 of Europe’s 69 Unicorns are based in the UK, with a cumulative value of over $64bn. The UK tech sector has long been recognised as one of the largest and most innovative in the world. Despite the struggles of COVID-19, the sector continued to grow and has been touted by many experts as the key to generating the economy’s recovery post-pandemic.

We assembled a prestigious panel for this discussion:

Nathan Guest: Corporate Partner & Head of Technology, VWV
Russ Shaw CBE: Founder, Tech London Advocates & Global Tech Advocates
Debbie Forster MBE: CEO, Tech Talent Charter
Harry Destecroix: General Partner, Science Creates Ventures
Roland Emmans: Technology Sector Head, HSBC UK
Felicity Burch: Director of Innovation and Digital, CBI (Confederation of British Industry)

Here’s a breakdown of what we discussed during the debate:

Nathan Guest: What are the key trends you see shaping the sector in the future? What is really standing out for you as the challenges and opportunities? And what verticals are thriving? (1:53)
Roland Emmans: What are the key trends you see shaping the sector in the future? What is really standing out for you as the challenges and opportunities? And what verticals are thriving? (4:25)
Russ Shaw CBE: What are the burning issues facing the sector? (10:17)
Felicity Burch: From the CBI’s perspective – what do businesses in the UK tech and innovation space say to you are the main challenges they face? (14:10)
Harry Destecroix: Can you tell us a bit more about how a strong ecosystem is so important for tech start-ups, in regard to having links with universities, funders and space? (18:41)
Debbie Forster MBE: The Tech Talent Charter looks to address inequality in the tech sector and promote diversity. Can you give us an update on the progress you feel is being made – and what more needs to be done in the tech space to encourage diversity? (25:14)
Nathan Guest: In regard to the clients you’re talking to in the tech sector, are they optimistic about their future, considering Brexit, the Biden election and the pandemic? (30:18)
Roland Emmans: What is your view around this and the role UK tech businesses will play globally in the future? (34:08)
Russ Shaw CBE: How do you feel the Biden election will change the US’s approach to the tech sector? (37:14)
Felicity Burch: In regards to the future for tech, I wanted to get your insight into how you see future economic and tax policy impacting the sector. What policy changes could we see placed on the tech sector? (40:41)
Debbie Forster MBE: From your experience, do tech firms have access to the skills they need for the future? (43:56)
Harry Destecroix: What role do you see AI and robotics playing in plugging skills gaps? (45:51)

Questions from the public

Russ Shaw CBE, Debbie Forster MBE & Roland Emmans: How do you see GenZ fitting into the rapidly-digitised economy? At an advantage as digital natives or higher risk of unemployment as automation removes more entry-level roles? (49:16)
Harry Destecroix, Russ Shaw CBE, Nathan Guest & Roland Emmans: Many tech businesses receive funding without having achieved sometimes market fit or made any money – is this still the case or is it becoming harder for tech firms to raise funding? (53:50)

• Final word from Roland Emmans (59:35)
• Final word from Harry Destecroix (59:58)
• Final word from Debbie Forster MBE (1:00:34)
• Final word from Felicity Burch (1:01:07)
• Final word from Russ Shaw CBE (1:01:36)
• Final word from Nathan Guest (1:02:12)

Click here to see all of our Tech Month content. Thanks to VWV for sponsoring Business Leader Tech Month.

Be sure to subscribe to the Business Leader YouTube channel for more interviews with some of the UK’s leading business figures.