Britain's 'Facebook' could come from fintech sector, says Eileen Burbidge

Image of London skyline with computer generated data lines and app images super-imposed over the top
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Britain has an opportunity to create a world-leading technology company, and this could emerge from the financial sector, according to investor and government technology advisor Eileen Burbidge.

Burbidge, who advises the government on the UK technology sector, and is chair of Tech City UK, told delegates at Cloud Expo Europe in London, that Britain has the qualities to generate the next Facebook or Google thanks to technology and the business climate in the country today.

“As an American VC, I am asked all the time when a British Facebook or Google will come along,” she said.

“Where I think Britain has an opportunity to shine, and genuinely lead the world is in something like financial services.”

Burbidge explained that despite resistant in years passed, finance services is moving to a disturbed business model, which relies on cloud infrastructures to function.

She explained: “The UK actually sees £4 trillion pass through London every day just on foreign exchange – were not talking about investment or anything else. As a result, there are 130,000 non-service workers in finance services in the UK, and 40,000 software developers in London.

“So, with respect to the digital ecosystem, with the [sic] retention rates in financial services, and the government, which has been very progressive in regulatory terms… you really do have a perfect storm for what Britain can do in the next two to five years.”

As an advisor and envoy, Burbidge is a key ambassador for the UK’s technology sector, and she encouraged delegates to reach out to the government and Tech City UK, saying that those kind of partnerships and decisions were crucial to the country’s digital ecosystem.

After her keynote, Burbidge gave a few examples of her investments, which pointed to why British entrepreneurs should reach out to VCs if they truly believe in their idea.

Burbidge explained her investments had changed since she and her co-founders had established their VC company, called Passion Capital.

“We told our investors, we weren’t going [to invest in] wearables and hardware because the capital needed was too intensive. We said we were not going to do a photo-sharing app, because who needed one after Instagram? And we said we were not going to do a social network," she said.

“We ended up doing every single one because we meet founders who really made us believe and buy into their market proposition.”