Guest blog: Russ Shaw on Cocoon Networks and London Tech Week 2018

June 7, 2018


London Tech Week is fast approaching, and preparations are well underway for our China-UK Hi! Tech Festival, which is back at LTW for the third time. We have a great lineup of speakers at this year’s festival, including Cocoon Networks member Russ Shaw, Founder of Tech London Advocates and Global Tech Advocates. Ahead of his panel slot at the Hi! Tech Festival, Russ Shaw shares his thoughts on LTW, as well as how GTA can help facilitate Sino-UK relations. Over to you, Russ…



For the third time this year, I’ll be taking part in Cocoon Networks’ China-UK Hi! Tech Festival. I really enjoy being part of the events that Cocoon Networks host, so it's a pleasure to be back!

Having recently spent time with Cocoon Networks in Shanghai and Shenzhen for the first LTW@China, it’s apparent that we need to stress the importance of building international bridges, especially with tech powerhouses such as China.


Spending time in China with Cocoon Networks was an eye-opening experience, as I was able to witness first-hand the spirit of collaboration between two growing tech hubs: the exchange of ideas, business opportunities and advice was in full flow and great to see.


I was also given a chance to experience the scale of investment funds, and infrastructure development projects in China, which are unlike anything we have in the UK, or Europe more broadly. China is not only turning entire districts of their biggest cities into innovation hubs for hundreds of startups, the country also possesses the perfect combination of private sector investment and government support that is accelerating the growth of its tech ecosystem.


It’s clear to me that China is one of the dominant tech forces for a reason, and its rapid growth is set to continue.


Building international bridges with other countries - including China - is a goal that my own organisations, Tech London Advocates and the Global Tech Advocates communities, strive towards through their own initiatives.


China-UK Hi! Tech Festival will bring to light how fruitful a China-UK relationship can be, especially at a time of uncertainty where we need to be looking to our counterparts all over the world to ignite a better future for the tech sector here in the UK. I get involved each year for exactly that reason – to help spread the word of a vital component to our tech ecosystem.


The China-UK topic is more relevant now than ever before, given our current political climate and the impending consequences of Brexit. International collaboration and the shaping of key relationships with countries outside the EU is the way forward for the UK, and this year’s event epitomises those links that will define the future growth of the UK digital economy.


At this year’s China-UK Hi! Tech Festival, I’ll be moderating a panel analysing the future tech trends between China and the UK. I’ll be talking about what we can learn from each other and how to utilise our differences to progress the tech sector. During my time in Shanghai and Shenzhen, I found that many Chinese entrepreneurs and investors commented on the key factors for the UK’s success in tech – from innovation and creativity, to depth and diversity of talent. China has many of these ingredients, however, it also has the ability and investment capacity to help businesses scale.


My panel event will also touch on how we can collaborate on a larger scale in terms of investment to benefit both parties. We want to help UK tech companies to scale in China, as well as encourage more Chinese students to stay in the UK for longer, in order to develop businesses and networks. This will in turn position them to be drive China-UK collaboration. Other topics will include talent and the regeneration programmes through innovation centres.

My fellow panelists include Sarah Haywood, CEO of MedCity, Joel Hughes, Director of UK & Europe at Indiegogo, Eva Zhang, Business Development Director of Alibaba Cloud Europe, Jude Sheeran, CEO at Eduserv, Dr. Ross Harper, Founder and CEO at Limbic AI, andRhidian Williams, VP, X Labs, Huawei.


There are a range of very intriguing debates and discussions featuring at this year’s festival. The two I am most excited about are the session with UK and Chinese investors, as I am curious to hear the different investment perspectives the panelists will offer, as well as the remarks from the Deputy District Mayor of Shenzhen Futian District. It is wonderful to have a senior Chinese government figure attend and to hear first-hand the views a public figure from the thriving Shenzhen area has on the UK-China tech collaboration, and how the Chinese public sector is supporting their ecosystem.


As well as our involvement in Cocoon Networks China-UK Hi! Tech Festival, TLA is supporting and hosting a series of LTW events across the capital. Our events will highlight the positive engagement of the community across the tech verticals. LTW is an opportunity to showcase the enormous contribution that the tech community has in the capital and TLA will be at the heart of it.


I will also be making keynote addresses and moderating panels across the week, from the UK-India Tech Summit, the launch of TLA RetailTech 50 and the Global Economic Summit with TLA Latin America to name but a few – it’ll be a busy week for the TLA network!


LTW is the perfect opportunity to showcase how GTA can encourage the growing relationship between the UK and China. The growth of the GTA network in China with the launching of Tech Shanghai and Tech Shenzhen Advocates creates a platform upon which strong ties can be built. Technology hubs should aim collaborate rather than compete in order to boost each other’s strengths and improve their weaknesses, and the GTA family was built with that sentiment in mind.


The private sector is ultimately the source of the funding and creativity that fuels growth in the digital industry, and the GTA network is designed to link private sector initiatives and ideas from across the globe, with the UK and China serving as a primary example of a thriving partnership.


I am very encouraged by the opportunities presented by the connections built between the two countries – China’s growth and expansion as a global tech powerhouse offers the UK’s community of entrepreneurs new business prospects, increasing their chances to develop their ideas and scale their businesses to new heights.


I look forward to seeing what exciting developments will emerge out of this year’s LTW.




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