08 Feb 2024

Event round-up: Redefining web 3.0: emerging economies, metaverse technologies, and the new age of the internet (with Shoosmiths)

On January 31 techUK was delighted to collaborate with Shoosmiths on this web 3.0 and metaverse event.

You can find Shoosmiths' own in-depth event round-up here.


We were joined by a strong line-up of industry experts including: 

  • Prakash Kerai (PK), Partner, Shoosmiths

  • Sam Tyfield, Partner, Shoosmiths

  • Laura Foster, Head of Programme for Technology and Innovation, techUK

  • Rory Daniels, Programme Manager for Emerging Technologies, techUK

  • Tom Fiddian, Head of Artificial Intelligence and Data Economy Programmes, Innovate UK 

  • Charlie Neuner, Immersive Technologies, Strategy Lead, PwC

  • Teddy Keefe, Senior Business Development Manager, Tencent

  • Rajesh Sadhwani, Managing Director – Banking and Capital Markets, DXC Technology

  • Miquel Vidal, Head of Extended Reality Solutions, CBRE 

  • Dr Christina Yan Zhang, CEO and Founder, The Metaverse Institute  

  • Robby Young, CEO, Animoca Brands

  • Gina Nelson, COO/Art Director aka Boss Witch, Oxalis Games 

  • Erika Bosch Ramirez, Product Design, Volta 

This event was chaired by techUK’s Laura Foster, Head of Technology and Innovation. If you have any questions about this event or techUK’s work across emerging technologies, please email [email protected].

In May, techUK will be launching a new area of activity exploring metaverse and web3 technologies. You can find out more about how to get involved in this activity by contacting [email protected].


Event summary

Session 1: How do we build the metaverse and what are the technologies that underpin it?

  • Prakash Kerai (PK), Partner, Shoosmiths  

  • Dr Christina Yan Zhang, CEO and Founder, The Metaverse Institute  

  • Miquel Vidal, Head of Extended Reality Solutions, CBRE 

  • Rajesh Sadhwani, Managing Director – Banking and Capital Markets, DXC Technology 

  • Erika Bosch Ramirez, Product Design, Volta 

Redefining #Web3 : How do we build the metaverse and what are the technologies that underpin it? (youtube.com) 

Understanding the metaverse: Background 

The metaverse will consist of a range of technologies, including Artificial Intelligence (AI)digital twins and immersive technologies such as Augmented and Virtual Reality (AR, VR), that are expected to converge to create the next generation of the internet. The panelists emphasised that the earliest forms of the metaverse can be traced to the first platform Second Life, noting the not so new technology was first around in 2003. However, as technology and our understanding of online environments has developed, the now 7-layered metaverse allows for various real-world simulation and optimisation.   

The panelists agreed that it is critical to differentiate between ‘centralised’ and ‘decentralised’ virtual worlds. In the centralised metaverse, users must join platforms which require hardware and software to interact, while the decentralised metaverse uses blockchain technologies and a mixture of new and pre-existing online environments to enable users to interact in the virtual world.  

There are many types of metaverse and interoperability will be critical to finding pathways for these to communicate with each other. This bridging will necessitate an urgent call for standards that enable digital assets to be transferable to different systems and subsequently avoid any loss of value. The next wave of development in the metaverse will have to focus on interoperability and this will entail a significant amount of silo breaking. 

Real World Applications: Use cases 

Panelists highlighted the ways in which businesses will interact with metaverse technologies: 

  • Virtual support: Remote support, fixing and virtual inspections. Exemplified by Vodafone’s digital twin of London Bridge station for contractors to fix faults from afar, decreasing delays.  

  • Libraries of knowledge: Creating knowledge repositories to support training and mitigate the considerable skills gap in emerging technologies.  

  • Simulating projects: Modelling and virtually interacting with projects which are too expensive, dangerous or difficult to control in the real world. Areas such as defence and aerospace have been using such technologies for R&D purposes. The Finnish government has been using it for urban planning to simulate builds before breaking ground. 

  • Medicine from the metaverse: The metaverse has supported surgeons to perform life-altering procedures from abroad. A pair of conjoined twins in Brazil were separated by a leading surgeon located in London. Recently, Neuralink successfully transplanted a computer chip into the brain of a paralysed individual who can now interact with a computer to simulate the experience of climbing a mountain. This hints at an increased use of wearables through which users simply use their brain rather than a keyboard to interact and connect to computers. 

  • Brand representation: With Banks like JP Morgan setting up the Annx Lounge and HSBC building a stadium for users to play games in The Sandbox there is a growing realisation that the metaverse will be a key environment in which companies can market their products and services. Other businesses have found the benefits of remotely working in the metaverse, a unique shift for hybrid working and company culture. Finally, business meetings and pitches have become three-dimensional (3D) with global partners using headsets to have face-to-face catch ups without the cost or carbon footprint of a flight.  

Challenges 

While panelists agreed on the business opportunities the metaverse will unlock this nascent application of emerging technologies will require overcoming several interconnected challenges. These include: 

  • Governance and policing: Issues related to anonymity, difficulty in detecting and investigating crimes, and challenges in punishing offenders all lead to ethical questions and adaptability. A paper release by INTERPOL discusses what it means to institutionalise an idea such as a virtual police station. Criminal activity is more accessible in the virtual world as it feels less real with lower barriers to entry and less chance of ‘getting caught’.  

  • The Digital Divide: Existing divides between communities can be heightened and amplified at scale by technology. These can be seen between men and women, the abled and disabled individuals, the rural and urban, the young and old, plus other global divides.   

  • Technical Difficulties: Alongside the sociopolitical implications of the metaverse one can find difficulty in the hardware. After 30 minutes of wearing a headset, one panelist remarked that it began to hurt their forehead and that their vision became fuzzy. The physicality of the experience will have to be tailored and considered for all body sizes in future.  

  • Environment and energy consumption: The environmental impact of technology can be seen in most emerging technologies. Whilst Quantum technologies can provide a solution, these still require extensive data centre cooling capabilities. 

  • Cybersecurity and privacy: Increased surface means more areas to protect from attackers. Privacy will be a key concern for users' data and new forms of financial fraud as digital assets continue to grow.   

As the panel drew to a close, panelists highlighted the need to start experimenting with web3 and metaverse. Frustrated by the focus on debating rather than implementing, it became clear that the UK must embrace these technologies to not fall behind. The sandbox approach was suggested as this could enable companies to think big, start small and make mistakes from which they can learn and iterate in a contained environment. The final note was to pay attention to financial digital assets as there is huge potential liquidity to support this infrastructure for government.  

Networking Break and Technology Demos with mXreality 

mXreality showcased various Metaverse environments, highlighting the technology's applications in events, onboarding, training, and education. Attendees enjoyed experiencing their online 3D Metaverse Hub, which is a fully content-managed platform allowing users to explore, connect, and interact in simulated environments.


Session 2: Regulating the Metaverse

  • Sam Tyfield, Partner, Shoosmiths  

Redefining #Web3: Regulating the metaverse (youtube.com) 

Context: What do we mean by regulating the metaverse? 

San Tyfield, Partner at Shoosmiths began his presentation on regulating metaverse by posing the question of who is responsible when something goes wrong in these new online environments. For the metaverse, this is specifically challenging as it lacks physicality. Should this be decided by the IP address of the victim or where the platform's headquarters are based; What happens when a platform does not have a location within anyone’s preview? It is important to ensure national legal and regulatory frameworks are metaverse-ready and that there is the ability for law enforcement coordination on incidents which are not necessarily tied to a jurisdiction. Global technology will require a global approach to regulation. Countries are currently exploring different approaches such as the Japanese ministry of economy, trade and industry released a web 3.0 policy office, South Korea has a national data policy committee reviewing the matter and the USA is lacking movement on the subject. 

As part of the presentation, self-regulation was discussed. However, through highlighting voluntary codes of conduct across social media, it was cautioned that they can prove to be unsuccessful. In other words, marking one’s own homework is rarely effective. In the interim, regulation will depend on what users request from the platform and how much inaction would negatively impact brand reputation. Currently, platforms conditions of use can also be used for banning users who breach contract when they cause harm. Yet, this form of enforcement is dependent on the platform's ability and willingness to monitor and moderate users. 

So, what might governance in the metaverse look like in the UK? 

Data collection will still follow AML KYC checks and users may find solus from data collection in membership dues. Paying for a service means that your data is no longer a commodity, and fees can be potentially purposed for regulatory costs and limit access to data.  

We can also use existing laws and frameworks such as the online safety act, what will differ between emerging technologies is how the act is implemented and enforced. The most challenging issue of the metaverse will be seen in tracing and catching criminals before demonstrating the offence. Alongside connecting the human agent to the virtual avatar to prove guilty for punishment. Regulators and industry must work together to avoid regulatory capture as first movers will get to decide on frameworks which the whole industry will adhere to, we must avoid regulatory capture.


Session 3: Developing a business strategy for the metaverse

  • Charlie Neuner, Immersive Technologies, Strategy Lead, PWC 

Redefining #Web3: Developing a business strategy for the metaverse (youtube.com) 

The event turned to building a business strategy for the metaverse. Charlie Neuner of PWC explained that the metaverse finds value as another avenue to engage with the next generation of consumer. Key growth areas include brand community, workforce enablement, revenue diversification and process optimisation. Successful uses can be seen in Nike’s 2 million in NFT and the PWC global metaverse campus for their 350,000 staff alongside a virtual park for attracting graduates. A key suggestion for marketing teams is to align the physical brand reputation with the digital. 

However, for a business strategy to work, they need to be built upon robust principles. Neuner suggested a responsible AI framework, which aims to address the risks of doing business in the metaverse, governed by key guiding principles from strategy to execution.  

Some principles may include Accessibility which enables assistive experiences for users of all abilities, Transparency to provide clarity to users around what they are experiencing and how data is collected and used from those experiences and Fairness in accounting for all possible users to build inclusive, unbiased solutions.  

Neuner noted the importance of establishing mechanisms to monitor and enforce the decided guiding principles, these may include Governance that enables oversight of systems through defined processes, roles, and responsibilities. Compliance demonstrates efforts to adhere with regulation, organisational policies and industry standards. Finally, there is need for overarching strategy to direct the research and development of emerging technologies that serve rather than exploit society. Metaverse ethics, consider the moral implication of uses, codify them into your organisation’s values.


Session 4: Gaming in the metaverse

  • Rory Daniels, Programme Manager for Emerging Technologies, techUK

  • Teddy Keefe, Senior Business Development Manager, Tencent

  • Tom Fiddian, Head of Artificial Intelligence and Data Economy Programmes, Innovate UK 

  • Robby Young, CEO, Animoca Brands

  • Gina Nelson, COO/Art Director aka Boss Witch, Oxalis Games 

Redefining #Web3: Gaming in the metaverse (youtube.com) 

Internationally, the gaming industry is projected to be worth $321 billion by 2026, with the value of the UK video game consumer market in 2022 sitting at £7.05 billion. As such, our final panel of the day discussed the application of metaverse and web 3 technologies in this large and innovative industry. 

The panel discussed how games such as Roblox and Minecraft already serve as metaverse-like environments in which users can share experiences together. However, the next iteration of this will likely involve the ability to transfer digital assets within and across platforms. This would require the gaming industry to identify or create a common language and set of software protocols for the in-betweens to avoid silos.  

The UK has an incredibly strong legacy in the development of video games and the technologies that underpin these. Examples of games produced in the UK include Lara Croft and Candy Crush. Furthermore, the cultural diversity within its studios ensures that the UK has a strong talent pool both within and outside London. The panel also flagged that there are many opportunities for UK-based gaming innovators, including the upcoming Brave Catalyst 50k grant, which closes on Wednesday 6 March 2024 11:00am. Please contact [email protected] to find out more about techUK’s upcoming activity in emerging gaming technologies. 

techUK continues to foster responsible innovation and cross-industry dialogue on the most promising and potentially transformative emerging technologies. For more information on how techUK can support you, please visit our Innovation Hub or contact Laura Foster at [email protected]


Laura Foster

Laura Foster

Head of Technology and Innovation, techUK

Rory Daniels

Rory Daniels

Programme Manager, Emerging Technologies

Tess Buckley

Tess Buckley

Programme Manager - Digital Ethics and AI Safety, techUK


techUK – Supercharging UK Tech and Innovation

The opportunities of innovation are endless. Automation, IoT, AI, Edge, Quantum, Drones and High Performance Computing all have the power to transform the UK. techUK members lead the development of these technologies. Together we are working with Government and other stakeholders to address tech innovation priorities and build an innovation ecosystem that will benefit people, society, economy and the planet - and supercharge the UK as a global leader in tech and innovation.

For more information, or to get in touch, please visit our Innovation Hub and click ‘contact us’. 

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