Wales Tech Week’s international ‘virtual’ summit has taken on the baton from the hugely successful in-person event, which drew more than 75 exhibitors, 300 speakers, and circa 4,000 attendees.
Hosting powerful conversations from last week’s three-day international event, the virtual event runs until 31 October, with 60+ recorded sessions accessible via Wales Tech Week on Haia at https://event.haia.live/event/599.
The platform also presents a Welsh, UK and global audience with the chance to “connect, collaborate and do business”, thanks to event and session chats and individual Haia profiles with more information on partners such as Aurora, Sauce Labs, Cyber Innovation Hub, Innovate UK, Box UK, Companies House, de Novo Solutions, Sony UK TEC, and Thales.
What do the sessions discuss?
Topics on the agenda include artificial intelligence, tech in public services, cybersecurity, manufacturing, digital inclusion, startup finance, sustainability, and technology career options. Among the high-profile speakers were Sarah Armstrong-Smith, Chief Security Advisor at Microsoft; global AI expert Danilo McGarry; and the closing keynote speaker, BBC Technology Editor Zoe Kleinman, spoke on ‘Reshaping Tomorrow: Harnessing Tech’s Infinite Potential to Innovate, Adapt, & Thrive’.
Over the first two days, Wales Tech Week hosted an international summit that enabled organisations from all sectors to understand how tech can tackle challenges such as boosting productivity, enhancing customer experience, or achieving net zero. This included a joint announcement of a Collaboration Innovation Plan by Vaughan Gething MS, Welsh Government’s Minister for Economy, and Innovate UK’s CEO, Indro Mukerjee.
On the third day, the ‘Talent4Tech’ event inspired the ‘tech curious’ – school pupils, students, graduates, career changers, and tech enthusiasts – to pursue a career in one of the many fields available, and understand the opportunities to shape the future in this dynamic industry. Sessions for employers discussed how to meet the skills gap and retain talent.
All of these sessions are available via Wales Tech Week on Haia at https://event.haia.live/event/599.
What did you miss?
Not all events could be captured for the virtual summit – the Celebrating Welsh Women in Tech networking lunch welcomed 200 guests, and the British Business Bank hosted the ‘Pitch Platform’ and ‘speed dating’ for investors and early and later stage startups.
Among the international Wales Tech Week attendees was HE the Hon Stephen Smith, High Commissioner of Australia to the United Kingdom, and delegates from Japan, Canada, Spain, Poland, the Dominican Republic, Sri Lanka, Estonia, and the Republic of Congo.
Key moments available on Haia until 31 October:
Day one highlights
- Sessions on artificial intelligence drew large audiences and questions from the floor. Global AI expert Danilo McGarry said artificial intelligence represents “the single biggest commercial opportunity available to businesses worldwide”, with the potential to catalyse profound changes in the global economy within three to five years. He also called for a tax on companies who use AI to help fund the upskilling of workers.
An international panel discussed the implications and the need for an inclusive debate to grasp AI’s potential and its wide-ranging impact. Speakers included chair of global Welsh and CEO of Four Communications Group Nan Williams; Dr. Albert Sabater, Professor of Computational Sociology at University of Girona and Chair of the Observatory for Ethics in Artificial Intelligence of Catalonia; and Swansea University’s Matt Jones, Professor of Human-Computer Interaction.
- On tech in public services, digital leaders from key UK Government data bodies — Companies House, ONS, DVLA, and the Intellectual Property Office – explored the innovative prospects for the public sector and its transformation towards a digital future, including the use of artificial intelligence.
- Cybersecurity, cyber threats, and resilience were the subject of one of the afternoon’s headline events, sponsored by the Cyber Innovation Hub, with their director Prof Pete Burnap, joined by Tony Burton, Managing Director, Cybersecurity & Trust at Wales Tech Week partner Thales; Philomena Lavery, Director Information and Cyber Security (CISO) at National Highways; and Sarah Armstrong-Smith, Chief Security Advisor at Microsoft.
Day two highlights
- Breakfast with Tokyo – This event was hosted by John Davies MBE, Co-Founder and Board Director of Cyber Wales, with a focus on the Welsh cybersecurity industry’s global reach and panellists attending in-person and virtually from Japan. John shared the backstory of Wales’ world-class cybersecurity industry and Cyber Wales, which has links with over 30 countries across the world, including Bangladesh, UAE, Japan and more. The team helped launch Cyber Hiroshima last year, creating myriad opportunities for future collaboration between Wales and Japan.
- Can Wales be a Pioneer in the Circular Economy? The panel included Inga Doak, Head of Sustainability at the Royal Mint; Ana Matic, Director, Digital Development at architectural company Scott Brownrigg; Gareth Banks, head of sustainability at office furniture maker Orangebox; and Dafydd Jones from LitterLotto.
Ms Doak explained how the Royal Mint’s business will include luxury jewellery made out of gold recovered from printed circuit boards. Topics discussed included the construction industry and circularity in commercial developments vs housing, and the business case for circularity across all industries.
- Funding the Future of Wales – A look at private investment in Welsh businesses. Experts from Beauhurst, British Business Bank, Development Bank of Wales and Mentra Ventures gathered to discuss the rise of angel investors, the impact of inflation on finance and innovation, and British Business Bank’s upcoming Investment Fund for Wales initiative that is going to be introduced on 23 November, providing £130 million for businesses across Wales.
- From Community Data to Citizen Activism: How Innovative Technologies are Revolutionising Public Services – The service provider industry is undergoing a massive transformation driven by technologies. This session aimed to demystify the tech that is reshaping services.
Day three – Talent4Tech:
- In Conversation with Zack Ahmed: Zack Ahmed, hailed as a prodigy by Forbes magazine and a digital whizzkid by Thrive Global, attended Cathays High School, Fitzalan Sixth form in Cardiff, and then Cardiff University School of Journalism, while working on his own international content creation company. He spoke to Technology Connected Managing Director Avril Lewis from New York.
- Diversity, inclusion and accessibility – for employers: With advice and insights for employers, HR/EDI professionals, job seekers and workers, the panel discussed different aspects of diversity and inclusion and why it matters. Panellists included Jade Lesh, a former chef who retrained into tech through the Prince’s Trust Google programme, Sophie Mason, CEO of startup Thinkedi, and Gemma Helyer, Senior UX Designer who spoke about her experience of dyslexia in the workplace, and balancing work commitments with motherhood.
- Exploring STEM in manufacturing: This was showcased by AMRC’s Rab Scott, Lucy Bulkeley, and Zara-Lea Field, and STEM Learning’s Eva Fryc. The panel led an engaging session that focused on the value of apprenticeships, making environments inclusive and attractive to those joining the industry.
- Fintech Unlocked: Guiding the next Fintech Generation: Sarah Williams-Gardener of FinTech Wales spoke to Leanne Waring, Business Development Manager at Cardiff and Vale College; Ammar Akhtar, Founder and CEO of Finalrentals; and Sarah Chick, Junior Software Developer at Wealthify, about how those in the industry joined forces to create a programme with local colleges to eliminate the skills gap and get more people into employment.
To catch up on the talks mentioned here and many more, visit https://www.walestechweek.com/programme-agenda/ to view the programme preview and register free at https://event.haia.live/event/599 for full details and session playback until 31 October 2023.