Deep Tech is now ubiquitous for anyone working in the tech community. While it has many definitions, and seemingly every startup is ‘powered by AI’, it undoubtedly describes technology that will be incredibly important to our future society and the tech community of the Southwest.
Whether it is artificial intelligence, quantum computing, robotics, immersive technology, biotech or the telecoms of the future, Bristol & Bath already has a great story to tell. Historically, the region has been endowed with industries such as aerospace, electronics, natural history television, and advanced engineering, meaning there is a strong base of talent and expertise to manufacture.
This is evidenced in the doubling of investment in tech business in the last five years and in a region recognized as one of Europe’s leading agricultural groups.
Companies like Graphcore, Open beyonics, Xialo, Rovko, Ultrasound And dozens of others are making a blemish in developing technologies to innovate our future. If we can continue to develop, the region can be a global hub inventing truly global technologies that define how we work, live and play.
It just won’t happen, though. There are several challenges to building a deeply intensive technological cluster in the Southwest.
Deep tech talent
Phenomenal growth means considerable demand for talent for these businesses. It is old news that experienced software engineers are in high demand, but this is particularly acute for languages that enable data engineering and machine learning.
People with experience in deploying computer vision and NLP technology commercially are difficult, and for drug discovery, computational biologists are going to be essential.
Diversity of people working in the sector is also a major challenge. While Open Bionic has great role models such as Sammy Payne and Zoe Thexton, the makeup of the tech community does not reflect the field overall.
In the past year, it has worsened with fewer women studying STEM subjects, and only 8.8% of the area is made up of people of color, despite Bristol having 28% of the population. There is also no data to show the impact on people who are of different types or from low socio-economic backgrounds, but I doubt this is good news.
Raise funds for deep tech startup
Along with talent, there are still real struggles for businesses that need to increase investment to grow, as do almost all deep tech businesses. Despite some typical deep-tech investors deployed across the country, most businesses report that they struggle to increase investment, and most still need to travel to London or abroad to sign deals.
There are already some great signs to help solve our challenges for the future. Recently SETsquared announced that 45% of its founders identify as women and 23% are from a BAME background. Arrived with new funds Creates Science Ventures Launching a dedicated deep tech fund locally and TechSPARK’s Investment Worker Program Connecting 120+ businesses with investors in 2020.
However, much more needs to be done. We need to make sure that we have the most talented people, either by training them or attracting them from elsewhere. We need to shout about the incredible technology created here so that businesses can sell and increase investment. Above all, we need to seize the opportunity to make what we already have a great global center.
Matt Miller has a great quote, partner a type of tree, One of the world’s leading investors, when he invested millions in Graphcore. Next time I hope he doesn’t surprise me so much …
“Lemme tell you, if you had asked me a month ago I would have [sit on] A board in Bristol, I would have said ‘No way!’
“It is not your specific destination on your tour of Europe. But to be honest, this is surprising to us in the Bay Area because the quality of talent in the UK and especially in Bristol … is very strong. The team they have succeeded in creating is equal to the best in the world. ”