11 Apr 2024

techUK’s Policy Leadership conference 2024, How can the next Government use technology to build a better Britain?

On 11 March 2024 techUK ran our third Policy Leadership Conference. The 2024 conference focused on “How can the next Government use technology to build a better Britain?”. 

Held ahead of an expected General Election later in 2024, we hosted a range of conversations tackling head on the big questions that our political leaders will face as they plan for the next Government.  

We were delighted to be supported by Microsoft, Autodesk, Logically and Sage to cover topics such as the opportunities and risks presented by AI in the decade ahead, whether the UK needs an industrial strategy for tech and the role for Britain in a more complex and uncertain world of great power competition.  

You can see below recordings of these discussions as well as our key takeaways. You can also read our Seven Tech Priorities and indusrty polling which we launched at the conference.  


Keynote address and fireside chat with the Secretary of State for the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology, the Rt Hon Michelle Donelan MP 


  • Rt Hon Michelle Donelan MP, Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology 

  • Dr Nicola Hodson, techUK Deputy President, Chief Executive in the UK and Ireland, IBM 

The Secretary of State used her appearance at techUK to launch a new communications campaign. The Campaign will highlight the broad range of science and technology companies in the UK to investors. Additionally, the Secretary of State’s speech highlighted the initiatives that the Government has pursued to support the tech sector. Michelle Donelan also set out her personal campaigning themes of the year ahead focused around skills, scale-ups and effective regulation.  

In a sit-down Q&A with Nicola Hodson, CEO of IBM for UK and Ireland and techUK Deputy President, the Secretary of State discussed what she felt were her and her Department’s greatest achievements one year on from the founding of DSIT, as well as the importance of getting more women and girls to see tech as a career pathway that is open to them.  

Watch the Secretary of State’s speech above and read more about DSIT’s campaign here


Keynote address and fireside chat with the Shadow Secretary of State for the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology, Peter Kyle MP 


  • Peter Kyle MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology 

  • Hugh Milward, Vice President – External Affairs, Microsoft UK  

During his address, the Shadow Secretary of State focussed on AI, saying the Labour Party is supportive of an optimistic vision for the technology, but stressed the need for trust in its uses – including its use in Government where he reiterated that he would try to increase transparency for its use in public services. He committed to more announcements around the Party’s plans in the coming weeks ahead of the General Election.  

In a sit-down conversation with Hugh Milward, Vice President of External Affairs at Microsoft UK, Peter spoke about Labour’s positive vison for technology and the role it can play in delivering Labour’s five missions as well as overcoming the skills barriers that the sector faces. 

Watch the full speech and in-conversation with above. 


AI in the decade ahead: What are the opportunities and challenges for the UK? 


  • Chloe MacEwen, Senior Director – UK Government Affairs, Microsoft UK 

  • Kirst Innes, Director of Technology, Labour Together 

  • Dr Saira Ghafur, Lead for Digital Health, Institute of Global Health Innovation, Imperial College London 

  • Neil Ross, Associate Director – Policy, techUK 

During the panel, the conversation acknowledged that the white paper response was a comprehensive piece of policy work but came alongside a political narrative focused on managing the risks of AI rather than seizing the opportunities.  

The UK’s regulatory approach was praised for its flexibility and adaptability in the face of a fast-moving new technology. Panellists believed it had a number of advantages over the EU AI act but that there was still a need to ensure some kind of international alignment between markets. Additionally, our panel discussed some of the practical barriers to putting the UK’s approach to AI into action.  


How good at tech are we? Ensuring our tech sector remains globally competitive 


  • Ben Aung, Chief Risk Officer, Sage 

  • Saqib Bhatti, Parliamentary under Secretary of State, Department for Science Innovation and Technology 

  • Dom Hallas, Executive Director, Startup Coalition 

  • Katie Prescott, Technology Business Editor, The Times 

  • Wendy Morgan, Founder and CEO, Jumar 

There was agreement across the panellists that the UK is currently leading as a science and tech superpower, but to ensure this remains the case there needs to be broader investment in AI, a greater development of skills and talent and wider AI adoption as priorities.  

Additionally, the discussion stressed the need for the UK’s regulatory approach to complement other jurisdictions – particularly as we see a changing regulatory landscape internationally.  


Deepfakes and disinformation in an election year what will it mean for democracy in the UK and abroad? 


  • Dorka Takácsy, Research Fellow, Centre for Euro-Atlantic Integration and Democracy 

  • Henry Adjer, Founder, Latent Space 

  • Rachel Wolf, Founding Partner, Public First 

  • Henry Parker, Global Head of Government Affairs, Logically.ai 

  • John Penrose MP, Member of Parliament, Weston-Super-Mare 

This panel focussed on how misinformation and disinformation can be used to create distrust during an electoral cycle. It was explained that research has previously found that when malign state actors look to spread disinformation online, their priority is on societal polarisation. In the past, we have seen examples of adversarial nation states looking not to change the outcome of the election, but instead to increase mistrust in existing institutions which is more advantageous to them. 

Speakers stressed the importance of education when considering tackling deepfakes and disinformation, and reiterated how people need to be able to understand what to look for when assessing the authenticity of content line to ensure they are not being misinformed.  


Does the UK need an industrial strategy for tech? And how do our strengths shape the UK’s global role? 


  • Allan Nixon, Head of Science and Technology, Onward 

  • Nicola Smith, Head of the Rights, International, Social and Economics Department, Trade Union Congress 

  • Antony Walker, Deputy CEO, techUK 

  • Olivia O’Sullivan, Director – UK in the World Programme, Chatham House 

  • Asif Moghal, Director for Market & Industry Development, Autodesk 

The point was made during the session that the Government is currently very focussed on the goings-on of the technology sector but an ever-increasing and changing list of priorities sends unhelpful signals to the industry.  

Instead, a consistent approach and framework from Government would help to ensure stability across the sector. One area that an industrial strategy for technology may be valuable would be in understanding priorities and focuses of regulatory frameworks – particularly considering that the legislative process can struggle to keep pace with innovation. 


What is Britain’s role in a more complex and uncertain world of great power competition and fast technological change? 


  • Kati Suominen, Founder and CEO, Nextrade Group 

  • Rt Hon Sir David Lidington, Chair, The Royal United Services Institute 

  • Sabina Ciofu, Associate Director for International, techUK 

  • Sam Sharps, Executive Director of Policy, Tony Blair Institute for Global Change 

One of the key takeaways from this session was of the importance of technology and how it is intertwined amongst traditional sectors that support stability in societies such as security, industry, and the public sector.  

Additionally, the conversation stressed the importance of trade policy going hand-in-hand with industrial and economic policy and that this link will increasingly be needed as we move forward into a century where the global world order will be more multipolar rather than being dominated by a single country.  


Antony Walker

Antony Walker

Deputy CEO, techUK

Neil Ross

Neil Ross

Associate Director, Policy, techUK

Alice Campbell

Alice Campbell

Head of Public Affairs, techUK

Archie Breare

Archie Breare

Public Affairs Manager, techUK

Oliver Alderson

Oliver Alderson

Policy and Public Affairs - Team Assistant, techUK