technology innovation & ai

are beginning to demonstrate their innovative solutions.

We don’t know who the nominees are yet, but some AI specialist businesses have caught our eye. Ascend Technologies, with offices on the Southampton Science Park, offers machine learning, simulation and physics model design services, which helps other businesses innovate faster. Tekever, a Portuguese business working out of Lydd Airfield amongst other places, builds drones which use AI in roles varying as widely as search and rescue and military surveillance. In the pursuit of fuel savings for the logistics industry, Dynamon develops software which ingests vehicle telematics data to produce procurement advice to increase efficiency for the specific journey and truck being analysed. Are you using the right tyres or even the right drivetrain for your use case? Now you can know.


What supporting capabilities should there be? Great universities to foster talent in the STEM fields, supportive local government recognising the economic growth benefits, innovation centres incubating startups and providing resources and expertise, active participation in the third sector?

The region is served by strong technology-related faculties with Southampton, Surrey, Sussex and Portsmouth all within the top 50 for Computer Science.

Universities in the south are very active in advancing emerging fields. Without doubt, as populations age and the fascination with human longevity and delaying senescence increases, it is the biomed field which will receive increasing focus in the years ahead. These developments are often presented first as improvements to general human health. Southampton University’s IT Innovation Centre incubates startups in a number of data-driven biomed fields, notably in decision support algorithms for use in hospital triage and big data analysis of disease. BigMedilytics, for example, is using data to predict asthma and COPD attacks and inform both the patient and their healthcare team – a first step on the road to hyperpersonalised

healthcare with the capacity to save lives as well as extend them.

We have also seen the rise in innovation spaces and incubators across the region. Southampton University, for example, has both the Future Worlds capability which aims to help new creative start-ups find business partners and mentors as well as providing space for development and research and the Southampton Science Park which looks to support innovative science and technology businesses from startups to multinationals.

According to TechNation 2020, there are more than a dozen regular tech meet-ups in the region, with CafeSci in Basingstoke, the Thames Valley AI hub in Reading and Tech Solent running regular events in both Southampton and Portsmouth.

There are also not-for-profit organisations like Silicon South which aims to raise the recognition, ambition and capabilities of the people and companies in the digital creative and tech sector in Dorset.

So it certainly is beginning to feel like there is a wider community to support our regional technology talent, help them develop their skills, have exciting opportunities to continue their career growth and create the collaboration events that through the collision of minds produce new ideas. Covid-19 may be driving those ideation opportunities online and making it more accessible in the process.


If you look at some of the firms and institutions we have highlighted above, it is interesting that a number of them have had a long history in the region. Southampton University’s Electronics and Computer Science school was first started in 1947; IBM started using Hursley for a development laboratory as far back as 1958; JPMorgan have had a technology hub in Bournemouth since 1985; ICS, the robotic automation specialists in Southampton were established in 1989. It goes to show that groundbreaking firms with emerging technologies can solidify them into mainstream products given the right support.


But will this leadership persist? That is up to all of you reading this magazine who have a passion for business in the region. Without your support and active involvement in this sector, local businesses will struggle, talent will move on and this vibrant community will be weakened or lost.

All businesses should be looking very carefully at both their people and their IT strategy in the current climate. If you have an opportunity to engage with a local firm to help with that, seize that moment, pick up the phone and find out how they can help your business.


We feel that the region is in great shape, with an active and vibrant community made up of large enterprises and startups, innovators and the institutions that incubate them.

But this is no time for businesses to sit on their laurels and all should look for further opportunities to develop the local technology landscape so that the region’s leadership can be sustained. In the words of renowned American broadcaster, Donald McGannon: “Leadership is an action, not a position.”

  Valentine and Ford are co-founders

of . Based in Southampton (and online), 4i is a community of business people and thought leaders who use the power of dialogue to make lasting change in the world.

The authors run the technology specialist forums and share an enthusiasm for the opportunities that technology continues to uncover. 13

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