Welcome back to a new season of The Workplace Series! Today, we are featuring TechUK: an organisation that represents the companies and technologies that are redefining the future world. We met with Member Relations Manager Sean Moore and discussed how TechUK is committed to helping its members and the sector grow.
Sean, can you tell us a bit about the background of TechUK and the main objectives of the organisation?
TechUK was established in December 2013. We actually evolved from an earlier organisation called Intellect, but we wanted to create an organisation that had a higher profile in the UK technology sector. We are a non-profit organisation that is owned by the 950 member companies, ranging from more traditional tech companies such as IBM and Oracle to the newer players such as Google, Facebook, LinkedIn. We also have 100 to 125 growing startup companies as members.
So, what are we here to do?
We are here on a simple 3-point mission: First of all, we are here to make sure that the UK is a good place for technology companies to grow and flourish, whether they would be UK founded companies or international businesses with setups in the UK. Secondly, we want to make sure that tech benefits the UK economy and the UK population as a whole. Finally, as a part of the TechUK membership, we have set up this space flexible office space in the City of London where we provide our members with workspace and meeting rooms.
Do you have a base outside of London as well?
No. We are looking into broadening ourselves across the UK by entering into partnerships with different regional organisations, but in terms of physical presence, London is our only office.
It has been a huge growth in the tech sector in the last 5 to 10 years, and London has become the tech capital of Europe. Do you collaborate with other organisations within this sector?
TechUK differs from other organisations because it is the only trade organisation that fully embraces the whole breadth of the tech sector. Most of the other organisations will be focusing more on specific aspects of tech and innovations in their regions. Therefore, TechUK is unique because it is the only organisation that can bring together the different parts of the industry and accommodate the key driver activities and programs to the markets. Our work includes partnering with different organisations and involvement with particular technology areas, such as Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, and Internet of Things, as well as different policy areas such as Brexit and data protection.
What are benefits for your members?
The core benefits for our members is the programs and the content. We run a range of different events, including briefings, discussion forums, networking events, breakfasts, lunches, and less formal evening events. We are also bringing them into contact with their own customers, regulators and other stakeholders.
Through our programs we help them with four main things:
- We help them to grow their networks of customers, partners, and suppliers through different tech activities. We have a good connection with people across UK and Europe, such as Digital Europe which is another tech organisation based in Brussel.
- Through our vertical market program, we help them to understand and grow the market in which they operate.
- We assist with reducing the cost to their business. A good example of this is price negotiation.
- Finally, we help the companies to reduce risk to their business. At the moment, “risk” is one of the biggest areas we focus on. As a result of Brexit, we focus on understanding the consequences and what it will mean for the businesses.
So it is a program that members primarily engage with. In addition to this program, we offer a range of services, including access to the actual space, discounted training courses, software escrow solutions, and legal advice and seminars from some of our law firm members. We also have an online HR portal as well where members can log in and download things like contract templates or search for information.
Do you have any collaboration with international partners?
Yes! I previously mentioned Digital Europe, which is an umbrella organisation from a European perspective. We also partner with Tech America, and worldwide we belong to an organisation called Witsa, a worldwide federation of technology trade associations. This is a virtual organisation that meet every other year.
What do you think are the main threats to the UK tech sector in the next two to three years and what are the main opportunities?
I think Brexit will be the key challenge in terms of the uncertainty that follows. That will be one of the main things that we need to help our members work through.
In terms of opportunities, we have the new and evolving technologies, such as the growth in artificial intelligence and machine learning. It all depends on how we embrace these evolving technologies with the evolving needs of the economy and how we manage to integrate these into our lives. Today’s technology is evolving quickly and we need to keep up with this evolution and make sure it is following the correct data regulations. There will always be challenges regarding the many ethical questions that come from these developing technologies, especially in relation to artificial intelligence.
Finally, Sean can you explain how your members can use the physical space here at TechUK?
Basically, the space works in two ways: first, we have the member networking area that is available for members to use every day from Monday to Friday from 8:30 in the morning to 5:30 in the afternoon. Members can drop in at any time they want within these hours, sign in at the front desk, and use the space for free.
Within the space, they can access the workstations, use the meeting area, access the Wi-Fi, and help themselves to refreshments and biscuits. In addition, we have seven different sized meeting rooms that members can use for a set time per year. These rooms are fitted with ceiling microphones, cameras and screens, and can seat everything from 2 to 120 people.
Photo credit: Chris Roche