Every new year technology brings new innovations, new start-ups and, inevitably, new buzzwords and acronyms. Technology continues to be a major focus of investment and we will hear much more of fintech, robo-advice, ad-tech, nanotechnology, connected and driverless cars, as well as wonder products such as quantum dots and graphene amongst many other developments and trends in 2017. The Cloud seems rather old hat in comparison – writes Reg Hoare.
My overall prediction is that this excitement and innovation will always both attract and need capital – capital that wants to find a faster growing home in a low growth world, and young companies that need capital to commercialise their cash-hungry products.
Brexit, and its impact on our currency and economy, clearly remains a constraint to all this; how will investors, especially overseas ones, feel about a post Article 50 Britain…will it encourage them to move early in the New Year to gobble up the cream of the crop before the environment becomes more uncertain – or will they take the long term view that Britain will be a great place to do business from as we seek wider global parameters (rather than narrow European ones)?
How will this all manifest itself:
First: Continued inward investment from overseas – the cheap pound allied to the UK’s strong track record of innovation and tech-friendly workforce will continue to attract overseas acquirers of and investors in UK businesses, as well as tech businesses choosing to base themselves in the UK rather than Europe (witness Apple’s commitment to take significant office at Battersea Power Station).
Second: Increased private equity investment in technology – 2016 saw the successful launch and additional financing of funds targeting technology investments. Draper Esprit listed in June, Imperial Innovations and MXC Capital raised new finance, and IP Group announced a raft of portfolio activity. There’ll be more to come in 2017.
Third: It’s been a long time coming, but 2017 could finally be the year that companies commercialising nanotechnology begin to deliver revenues and, dare I say it, profits. Nanoco, a producer of quantum dots, is well set to revolutionise the display market, starting with your standard 40” colour television, whilst Haydale Graphene Industries continues to be one of the leaders using graphene as a commercial industrial raw material.
Who knows how Donald Trump’s policies will impact the greatest tech hub of all – in Silicon Valley, California