When you think about London Tech Week, thoughts of buzzy startups, chaotic workspaces and endless supplies of artisan coffee spring to mind.
While these stereotypes do apply to some of the 200-plus events at this week's showcase of London's emerging technology prowess, the related Science CEO Summit, held in West London's Royal Society building, was a more considered affair.
The Royal Society has partnered with the Science Museum and Silicon Valley Comes to the UK (SVC2UK), a non-profit organization that promotes entrepreneurship, to mentor and champion the U.K.'s most promising science-based ventures.
And promising they are. The country's 50 fastest-growing science companies boast an average annual revenue growth rate of 92 percent, according to research conducted jointly by The Royal Society, the Science Museum and SVC2UK. Between them, the companies generated revenues of 1.31 billion pounds last year. These fifty companies are now being tracked as part of the Royal Society Science 50 index.
Although the Royal Society index was unveiled in London, the list covers vast swaths of the U.K. The presence of fast-growing startups from as far south as Devon, all the way up to Inverness in northern Scotland, is testament to the wide spread of expertise.
Among the companies attending the summit were Cambridge Temperature Concepts, a life sciences company which is set to introduce its wearable fertility monitoring product into the U.S. market, as well as Blaze, a startup that is trying to improve cyclist visibility through an innovative LED bikelight.
Considering that the U.K's science ventures are often borne out of its universities -- four of the current top ten global universities are British -- why would these startups need the help? The U.K. has a disappointing track record of turning this scientific knowledge into profit.
"The old adage is that it gets invented in the U.K. and exploited in the U.S.," serial entrepreneur and venture capitalist Hermann Hauser said. "We are getting better but a lot more needs to be done."
Hauser produced a report for the government in which he made the case for investment in a network of technology and innovation centers to enhance the U.K.'s ability to commercialize its research. This subsequently led to the inception of "catapult centers," designed to bridge the gap between ideas and successful businesses.
SVC2UK's founder Sherry Coutu says if the U.K. can improve this process, significant opportunities lie ahead.
"Not only is the science these ventures are based on more important than many other traditional startup industries, it also makes for a much more defensible business," she said.