By Anna Lewis:
I was very excited to be invited by the Duke of York to attend to a reception for the UK Tech industry at Buckingham Palace.
Hosted by the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, the event aimed to highlight the rising contribution of tech firms in the UK economy. Around 350 attendees came from across the UK and included some of the best-known, established entrepreneurs such as Michael Birch (founder of Bebo), Brent Hoberman and Martha Lane-Fox (founders of Lastminute.com) and the teams behind Rasberry Pi and Swiftkey (last night’s winners at the TechCrunch Europas Awards).
I had the opportunity to meet the Queen and talk to the Duke of Edinburgh. He told me that he has a smart phone but never uses it himself (well, I suppose he is in his nineties!) and that his first computer was an Acorn which he bought in 1982. We had a laugh about the fact that was before I was born. Not that I could feel youthful for too long: five minutes later I was chatting to Nick D’Aloisio who started his first company, Summly, at fifteen, and sold it last year to Yahoo, becoming one of the youngest self-made millionaires. He’d just popped out from revising for his A Levels, which he’s taking this week (!) and was annoyingly charming and personable for someone who has achieved so much at such a young age.
I’ve attended a fair few networking events, but mostly focused on book publishing, or the London start-up scene. The Palace had really made the effort on this occasion to find a broad scope of people from across the technology spectrum, and from all over the country. I was struck by the huge variety of interesting and inspiring people in the room and I had a great time talking with them about all kinds of areas of technology, from the development of uses for graphene, to the new Seaboard piano and initiatives to encourage women and girls to pursue careers in technology.
I was there representing my companies ValoBox and CompletelyNovel, showing some of the forms that technical innovation can take in the book publishing industry. For me, the reception was a timely (and unusually stately!) reminder about the importance of looking outside of your industry at the opportunities on offer from a very fast-moving tech scene.
You can find a write-up of the event on the Guardian:
Growing potential of UK tech startups promoted by royal reception
And more information on the Duke of York’s website:
UK Tech Reception
The event had the hashtag: #TechAtPalace