Russ Shaw has been banging the drum for London’s tech community across the world to resounding results thanks to his network’s volunteers
Crowned the European leader for the creation of tech unicorns among other titles, Britain’s tech scene is bursting with life in the face of ongoing Brexit anxieties. But the somewhat surprising success would be impossible without London which, as well as being dubbed the AI capital of Europe in 2018, produced 21% of Europe’s tech unicorns the same year according to the Digital Economy Council, the government's engagement forum for the digital sector.
The Big Smoke’s steadfastness is thanks to people like Russ Shaw, founder of Tech London Advocates (TLA), a network of tech leaders, entrepreneurs and experts uniting to make London a global tech hub. Shaw’s done enough globe-trotting to raise the capital’s profile with TLA that he’s taken home the London Business Award – London Hero. And although his name adorns it, he accredits the trophy to his network’s many members. “Well it wasn’t me, it was the 7,000 advocates in the community that I basically work with to promote London’s tech ecosystem and to deal with the issues and challenges that we face,” he says.
Given this is no ordinary gig for many of those 7,000 people, it’s clear why Shaw believes they deserve to share the glory. “Everybody in the group’s a volunteer so everybody does this beyond their regular day job,” Shaw explains. “I think that’s part of why London is such a strong community.” Indeed, Shaw’s seen vast benefits to working with volunteers, many of whom come to meetings and events after clocking 12 hours in their day jobs, that’s tough to find otherwise. “I think working with volunteers and TLA kind of calls on their better angels,” Shaw says. “They do the work that they do to promote the startups scaleups and the great successes that we’re having here in their spare time.”
7,000 advocates sounds plenty but Shaw’s wide-reaching goals means there’s always room for more at TLA. “There’s ample opportunity to get involved, to come into the community [and] be part of TLA,” he says. In fact, while banging the drum for London’s tech community across the world Shaw’s witnessed first-hand the universal hype for the capital. “There’s a buzz for what’s going on here,” he describes. “The innovation, creativity [and] spirit of entrepreneurship is incredibly powerful and many people want to get closer to what we’re doing.”
There’s truly no better time to heed the call and promote London’s tech community. “I think the future of tech in London is very, very promising,” Shaw summarises. Indeed, April marks TLA’s sixth birthday and Shaw’s already witnessed so much progress in the relatively short space of time. “It really started to gain traction seven or eight years ago and [London’s] now recognised as such a critical tech hub,” he concludes. “If you look in areas like fintech, artificial intelligence, machine learning, medtech, healthtech [and] retailtech, we have such diverse startups and scaleups here and big tech companies that we’re really proud of.”This article comes courtesy of London & Partners’ Business Growth Programme. Tailored to your business growth ambitions, the programme offers free impartial business advice and support to SMEs looking to grow across London