The UK’s digital strategy

Held on Thursday, July 4th


  • Ed Vaizey MP

  • Christopher Haley (Nesta)

  • Jemima Kelly (FT Alphaville)



I assume that the UK government does have a well thought-out, consistent, joined-up digital strategy – and, more to the point, a strategy for ensuring that we at least hold our own in the global FinTech race, where (I am told) we are No 3 in FinTech investment and No 1 in Europe for deal volume. We have certainly heard a lot from (and about) Innovate Finance, FinTech Scotland, FinTech North, the FinTech “State of the Nation” report, Level 39, the FCA’s “sandbox”, and the government’s own FinTech Sector Strategy.

But is it really joined-up? And is it really working? And, even if we are (as I think we are) doing pretty well, could we/should we do better?

It is always a pleasure to lure a senior politician away from Westminster, and to stick him in front of a City audience – the more so since (for once) the subject is not Brexit, or even the succession to Mrs. May. Even better when the politician in question actually has something to brag about.

Ed Vaizey has been MP for Didcot and Wantage since 2005. From 2010 until July 2016, when he fell out with Mrs. May over Europe, he served as Minister of State for Culture – a post that covered the digital economy, the introduction of 4G, the rollout of rural broadband and the rapid growth of the UK’s tech-based gig economy. Now, I see, he’s taken on a new career, performing Stockhausen at the Festival Hall.

Still, back to basics: I am delighted that Ed has agreed to share his thoughts on how Britain’s digital strategy evolved, and where it should go. I am also delighted that we have two other panellists to ensure that he doesn’t get too easy a ride:

  • Christopher Haley is the head of new technology and start-up research at Nesta, the former National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts which was set up in 1998 with money from the National Lottery. Nesta defines its role as backing “new ideas to tackle the big challenges of our time”. Prior to joining Nesta, Chris worked on technology commercialization at Imperial College. He read natural sciences at Cambridge (from where he achieved his PhD), and shoots for Britain.

  • Jemima Kelly is the FinTech guru at FT Alphaville, having previously worked at Reuters and The Economist. She is also the anchor of our monthly “FinTech for Breakfast” meetings, where her speciality is puncturing the fantasies of the most committed crypto boosters.

This is an important issue, and it should guarantee a lively discussion. If you (or a colleague) would like to join us, please let us know by emailing or by calling the Centre on 0207 621 1056. As usual, there will be coffee, tea and buns.

Sincerely yours,

Andrew Hilton