Spotify Brings Entrepreneurs and Trailblazers Together to Talk the Future of Tech in the UK

With its particular combination of talent, ambition, culture, and, of course, world-famous music, the U.K. has been an important piece of the Spotify puzzle since we launched in 2008. Today, as one of our biggest research and development hubs, it’s where we experiment with some of our most exciting new launches and products, including audiobooks in Premium, video-based learning courses, and, most recently, AI Playlist.

Spotify’s success in the U.K. is due in large part to the country’s open, connected, and competitive economy. Exceeding £1 trillion, the U.K.’s technology market is the largest in Europe and the third-largest in the world.

But the country is also at a crossroads, with profound technological, political, and economic changes on the horizon. That’s why Spotify decided to gather industry leaders across the tech, media, and policymaking landscape for an action-packed evening at our London office. Together, we celebrated the entrepreneurial spirit at the heart of the U.K. while exploring how the country remains at the forefront of technological advancement and innovation.

On April 16, we assembled entrepreneurs and trailblazers for a series of candid and thought-provoking conversations alongside a group of influencers, commentators, and policymakers. Dustee Jenkins, Chief Public Affairs Officer at Spotify, hosted the evening.

To kick things off, she sat down with Brent Hoberman, who cofounded the online travel and leisure retailer lastminute.com in 1998. Together, the pair discussed how we can help the next generation of businesses flourish. As cofounder of the Founders Forum network, Brent has been instrumental in nurturing and inspiring tech entrepreneurship around the world over the past two decades.

“Primarily what is organic here [in the U.K.] is talent,” he noted. “There is a huge depth of talent. It’s one of the highest densities of top corporates: Those corporates actually educate and train talent, and a lot of that talent wants to work at startups. You’ve got talent, capital and skills.”

Spotify’s Co-President and Chief Business Officer Alex Norström then sat down with venture capitalist Harry Stebbings, host of The Twenty Minute VC podcast. Harry launched the podcast as a teenager in 2015 and has since interviewed thousands of investors, entrepreneurs, and startup founders. The two unpacked how founders can overcome barriers to growth in today’s tech sector, and Harry asked Alex what he likes about London.

“I’m impressed by the passion of London,” Alex replied. “I came here thinking I was going to get a lot of rain. I got vibrancy and dynamism, both culturally as well as in business.”

Last but not least, Her Royal Highness Princess Beatrice of York—founder of BY-EQ and Vice President of Partnerships and Strategy at Afiniti—hosted a fireside chat with Priya Dogra, Former President of WarnerBros Discovery for EMEA, and Sakshi Chhabra Mittal, founder and CEO of Foodhak, a science-based meal delivery service. The three discussed the impact tech is having on mission-driven companies and strategies for designing businesses in the modern age, as well as how to bring more women into tech.

Said Sakshi, “In the U.K., there is genuinely a desire to lead the pack.”

Meanwhile, looking at the country’s tech landscape from a media perspective, Priya observed, “The interesting thing about the U.K. is that it is such a big hub for production: such high quality for film, for TV, for gaming, for graphic talent, and also for infrastructure. There’s almost a fight for sound stages, because there’s such high demand.”

To add a little entertainment to the mix, U.K.-based artist Joesef capped off the evening with a special performance. Joesef, who has graced stages from Glasgow to Glastonbury, is an ambassador for GLOW, Spotify’s global music program celebrating and amplifying LGBTQIA+ artists and creators.

This was an exciting opportunity to showcase and uplift the U.K. tech community, but the event also comes at a pivotal moment. As the Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers Bill (DMCC) makes its way through U.K. Parliament, future policy plans for the sector are beginning to form. The DMCC ensures that the U.K.’s vibrant ecosystem, which many have worked so hard to build, can continue to thrive and compete on the global stage. To learn more about the DMCC, visit Time to Play Fair.