UK’s digital future – innovation, creativity and startups – Andy Chew, Head of Architectures at Cisco UK&I

We are currently in an era of digital disruption. Digital technology is transforming the world’s economy and the UK has opportunities to position itself at the forefront of this major disruption. Both in Britain and overseas, digital evolution has been key in stabilising the economy and is leading to the proliferation of digital businesses across all sectors from transport to healthcare, retail, manufacturing and marketing. We are moving from an age where strategy is enabled by digital capabilities to one where digital capabilities are the strategy. A key component of this is the startup community and the innovative, creative communities that have established themselves across the globe.

The UK has an established startup community and has positioned itself as a digital champion, with a wealth of experience and business acumen that is fuelling the UK economy and pushing technology boundaries.

The Internet of Everything (IoE) is one market where there has been a flurry of new innovation and that offers huge potential for British businesses. In fact, Cisco forecasts that the IoE would create $19 trillion over the next decade, with 50 billion things connected to the network by 2020. Furthermore, a recently launched report revealed that today’s startup community is estimated to make over £100 billion from the IoE by the same year.

While the potential for British business in utilising the IoE is clear, it is also an opportunity for larger organisations to help emerging startups that can bring ideas, creativity and innovation, which otherwise would not be possible. One such programme is Cisco’s British Innovation Gateway (BIG), which aims to support technology startups and the upcoming generation of innovators and entrepreneurs. Created and lead by senior Cisco executives, BIG offers practical help, mentoring and advice to startups and small businesses with the specific goal of accelerating innovation and growth to positively impact the SME sector of the UK economy.

A key advantage of programmes like BIG is the exposure that startups get to big organisations, key influencers as well as access to crucial mentoring, but also for larger companies it can challenge what they do and how you do it, forcing them to consider new ways of thinking and new working practices. Critically, it encapsulates a passion and energy for new technology and innovation, fuelling new ideas and creativity that can be heard across the UK.

As part of this year’s BIG Awards, we are delighted to be representing startups from across the UK to highlight the innovation that is underway not only in London, but across the country. Each company is using IoE technology to break boundaries, solve problems and enhance customer experience in sectors including manufacturing, retail, healthcare and energy. As a mentor in this year’s process, I will be looking to guide these businesses over the course of the BIG Awards process, helping them to filter incoming opportunities, prioritise their time and develop their product and market proposition. The aim is to challenge industry paradigms, which reflects Cisco’s ethos of supporting Britain’s digital future.

The six finalists for this year’s Cisco British Innovation Gateway Awards were announced on 28th September with the final set to take place at the National Theatre on 22nd October 2015

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