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London Technology Week: The emerging thinkers of Britain's future

By Irene Chapple, CNN
updated 8:29 AM EDT, Fri June 20, 2014
  • London has held its first Technology Week, bringing together thinkers and inventors
  • The aim is to invigorate the sector and establish London as a leading light in global tech
  • Five of the sector's influential thinkers have given their thoughts on the future
  • Explore the interactive to find out what they do, and how it will impact your life

Editor's note: Click through the interactive above to hear from some of Britain's most interesting and influential young thinkers. This may not work on all mobile devices.

(CNN) -- Entrepreneurs gathering for London's inaugural Technology Week have set the city's east end abuzz.

As the event winds up, CNN has tapped five of tech's leading minds to reveal how they see the future of technology -- and whether London can stand its ground against tech centers like Silicon Valley.

From home-made computers to money transfers, the five represent the disruption of established norms. They are creating better, more streamlined ways to operate in the modern world -- and inspiring those who follow in their path.

London is seen as a laggard to its U.S. counterparts, but the emergence of the city's east end as a tech hub is helping inject energy into the sector.

And according to the five -- Alex Klein of Kano, Ben Medlock of Swiftkey, Kathryn Parsons of Decoded, Michael Kent of Azimo and Emily Brooke of Blaze -- London is making its mark on the global tech stage.

Klein, who has created a build-your-own computer kit, says London still "has a lot to learn from the Valley, but it's got its own tricks -- brilliant design talent, and close cooperation in government."

And, as Klein notes, geography is decreasing in importance as the world changes into one where entrepreneurs can "self-teach, open-source, and crowdfund."

Parsons, who is determined to demystify coding and make it available to all, says London's fame across so many sectors -- fashion, finance and media, for example -- is now spreading to technology.

Emily Brooke, of bike safety innovators Blaze, agrees, noting this is particularly the case with hardware. "There is a growing community of people "building things"' in London," she told CNN. And "as a globally recognized design capital, London is the perfect place to do it from."

London is, indeed, at the heart of Britain's tech scene, Medlock says. The man behind one of the hottest keyboard apps on the market says it "attracts some of the best global talent, it's got a great vibe and a growing early stage investment culture."

But there's work to be done, he adds. "We're a generation behind but we're catching up."

London is the "best place in the world" to start a financial tech business, according to Michael Kent, of international money transfer start-up Azimo. But, like Medlock, he remains cautious.

According to Kent, the venture capital scene needs to "grow up" or see the "U.S. firms come over and eat their lunch."

READ MORE: UK tech companies to watch

WATCH MORE: Best gadgets at tech week

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The Business View
Nina dos Santos is a news anchor and correspondent based in London. She is the host of CNN International's show The Business View.
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