Can Logica and CityMeetsTech create a culture of innovation?

Opinion

Can Logica and CityMeetsTech create a culture of innovation?

Logica recently held an event that asked: Has Britain lost its way as an innovator? How do we reclaim our position?

While Logica tries to wrestle with that problem and create an innovation culture, there's another battle going on a mile or so down the road.

How do we get the City of London to take a gamble on tech start ups? They're all very brave when trading billions of other people's money. But it seems they're pretty timid when it comes to backing their judgement with their own cash.

Still they've got enough disposable income to chuck around. If you've ever seen the till receipts of a lap dancing club (as I have, in a business capacity) you'd know that it's not unknown for one of these Masters of the Universe to spend £50k in a night.

Surely, if they were so good at business, they might be prepared to put their money where their mouse is!

This is the rationale of a new lobby group, CityMeetstech, which aims to bring the hard headed business experts of the city together with Britain's tech crunchers and start ups.

The idea, says front man Steve Kennedy, is to bring high net worths, who could invest £50K into something without worrying too much, into the technology industry.

The movement's inaugural deal came when Kennedy's friend James Rowsell (until recently CEO of MF Global) was persuaded to find an alternative to his usual investments in stud farms and horse racing. Rowsell's problem was that, though he understood complicated gambling permutations, he couldn't 'get' IT.

Kennedy introduced him to Jason Trost CEO of Smarkets.

Now they aim to 'educate the market' with a series of convivial City-based drinking events, which should be fun if nothing else. What's to lose?

The first event is purely educational. Kulveer Ranger (the Mayor's digital advisor) will give a brief talk, Taylor Wessing is giving a talk on EIS and other advantages of investing, then there'll be a panel discussion with various successful tech entrepreneurs and VCs who invest in tech (Anil Hansjee, ex-Google; Spencer Hyman, ex-Last.fm and now Artfinder).

There are other ideas to take this forward. Watch this space.

This was first published in October 2011

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