The list focused on those at Executive Levels within established companies and Founders in startups, with the shortlist process being carried out by a panel of seven judges from different sectors in the tech world.
The keynote speech was given by Ed Vaizey, Minister of State for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries with an address by H E Ranjan Mathai, High Commissioner of India to the UK. Shortlisted nominees and key figures in the UK Tech industry also attended including; Diversity UK Founder & CEO Lopa Patel MBE; Jonathan Roomer of the KPMG High Growth Technology Group; Dinesh Dhamija, Founder of Ebookers and Shivvy Jervis, Tech Editor at Huffington Post & a content creator for Wayra.
The list launch coincided with Wayra’s StartUp DNA research which explores the UK StartUp scene in detail. Wayra’s research shows that the UK Tech industry is more ethnically diverse than Silicon Valley and has greater female representation. The UK start-up ecosystem is also four times more likely to have individuals from ethnically diverse communities in C-suite positions than FTSE 100 businesses, 21% versus 5.1% respectively, a significant achievement given that only 12.7% of the UK population is from an ethnic minority community.
List curator Lopa Patel MBE, said “When I started compiling the list it quickly become apparent that a lot of South Asians are working in the tech industry, and increasingly in startup sectors, such as cleantech, fintech, healthtech, edtech and social enterprises. The range of different business models and the markets that they serve is staggering. It directly challenges the widely held notion that Asians run Britain’s corner shops, petrol stations and restaurants. In the Tech Sector, Asians are well represented in all markets and at all levels”.
With 21% female representation in the list, Asian women are also well represented in the UK Tech Industry, with many established in the investor, accelerator and venture capital space. However, Wayra’s research showed that men have far greater access to finance than women. Men are nine times more likely to get VC finance and 59% more likely to secure angel investment than women, so bringing more ‘visible’ women into the funding space is crucial for greater diversity in the future. Three out of the Top 5 Investors on the list were women with Sonali De Rycker, Bindi Karia and Sitar Teli taking their place alongside Suranga Chandratillake and Samir Desai. The full brochure can be found here.
The Top 100 Asian Stars in UK Tech list also recognised the original tech entrepreneurs who are still involved in the sector including Ajaz Ahmed, Dinesh Dhamija and Dame Zarine Kharas. The list also acknowledged the impact that Digital Influencers, like former Dragon’s Den star James Caan (Chairman of StartUp Loans) have had on the tech sector.
Wayra’s research found that, ‘In overwhelming numbers, respondents were clear that diversity helps them [startups] in a number of ways in relation to overcoming challenges, competing in markets and in innovation’. Wayra’s research showed that 82.5% of individuals agree that diversity helps teams bring new thinking and that 97.1% of individuals are open to working in diverse teams. In the words of Lopa Patel “It is only by showcasing the Asians already working in the sector that we can start the dialogue about how to achieve greater diversity in the sector.”