Graeme Weston, partner and co-chairman, WPSChallenger
There is absolutely no question that we are well and truly living through the data age. It is all around us constantly flying past us, around us, into our phones and, of course, in and out of our machines. What’s more, data has fast become one the most valuable commodities we have and is repeatedly being used to build million, and even billion, pound businesses.
And yet one of the most exciting things about technology and data and internet businesses (particularly from an investment perspective) is that they evolve faster than any other industry or sector in the UK. What this means, in very real terms, is that the possibilities are endless in terms of how data will increasingly affect each and every area of mainstream culture (if it’s hasn’t already) and what this means both for businesses and consumers. It can be hard for anyone to keep on top of this so, as investors, we tend to look for trends over specific technologies.
One of the key trends where we see interesting potential is collaboration. More specifically, areas where creative technology is effectively fused with perhaps more traditional areas to not only produce something completely original, but to set a precedent for how those traditional industries can operate in the future.
Take art or music for example.
Thanks to the creative technologists at Google, anyone restricted in their ability to travel can now take a virtual walk-through almost any internationally renowned art museum via the Google Art Project. On a more personal note, as one of the original team that launched MTV in Europe, I was blown away by Canadian band Arcade Fire teaming up with creative technologist Chris Milk to create an individually personalised online music video, for their single The Wilderness Downtown, rather than what had been up to that point, the standard accepted practice of only producing one video for everyone.
These examples are by no means new, but they are both notable because they both signified how data and creative technology can be used to enable change.
London right now has the rare privilege of having both a booming start-up scene filled with some of the brightest hackers, coders, developers & creative technologists alongside internationally renowned music and art scenes.
When we launched our digital venture fund here, this was exactly the reason why. To find those next generation creative technology and media businesses that are going to fundamentally change and enhance these industries.
To that end, this month we have teamed up with 3beards, the team behind some of the best known London startup events like Silicon Drinkabout and Don’t Pitch Me, Bro!, to sponsor an art-meets-tech hackathon, followed by an exhibition evening at Whitechapel Gallery.
The event, Digital Sizzle 6, is 3beards’ biggest event to date and we think it is through through these kind of collaborative events, aimed at exploring the unknown by bringing different industries together, that we’ll see the next generation of game-changing global businesses emerge from right here in our own backyard.