Max Chambers joins Public as our new Director of Insight. We talk to Max about the role, GovTech, and the Rise of UrbanTech.
Tell us a little about yourself?
I joined Public a few weeks ago, having mentored a few of the companies in our first GovStart cohort over the summer. I’ll now be heading up our research programme and working closely with the startups we support.
My experience to date is a mix of public policy, strategic communications and the tech sector. I worked with Public’s co-founder, Daniel, in Number 10 as David Cameron’s Home Affairs Adviser, and later as his Speechwriter. For the last year, I’ve been helping to establish Nextdoor, a big US social network, in the UK and other European markets.
Who do you hope will benefit from Public’s research and insights?
We’re hoping to attract quite a diverse audience – not just government policymakers and politicians who are interested in innovation, but also great startups and investors too. Public sits at the interface of government, startups and the investment community, and that hopefully gives us quite a unique perspective to bring to bear on the most important policy challenges facing our society, and how the public sector can use technology to solve them.
What can we expect from the upcoming Rise of UrbanTech report?
Our first report, The State of the UK GovTech Market, explored the UK’s leadership in the emergent market globally. But the report we publish next week – informed by hundreds of conversations with local government leaders, tech firms and policymakers over the last year – focuses on the UrbanTech innovation that is bubbling away at the local level. Our research suggests UK stands on the brink of a really exciting new period of local innovation.
What is so exciting about UrbanTech right now?
I think there’s a real moment of opportunity in the UK for a once-in-a-generation transformation in the way local services are managed, delivered and experienced by citizens. If we get the next few years right, we’ll end up with a new kind of state – closer to people, smarter in how it uses data, and more responsive to people’s needs and aspirations.
“Few countries are going to have the opportunity to transform large swathes of public sector services in the way that we will in the UK…”
That’s what our new report will be all about – and the idea is to give a very clear sense of how startups can lead the way in driving innovation in the local government space.
What do you think the GovTech sector will look like in 5 years time?
First of all, GovTech will be much bigger – our recent report projected that GovTech will be a £20 billion market in the UK by 2025. And that’s not surprising when you consider how many areas of government could be improved with new technology, and how quickly other sectors are already changing. Brexit will be important here too, because there are so many areas where the government will be reliant on new technology solutions – from farming payments to borders and immigration.
But it will also be a much more diverse sector, with less dominance by a small number of big players who too often fail to deliver the innovation government needs.
Few countries are going to have the opportunity to transform large swathes of public sector services in the way that we will in the UK – and that’s what makes Public such an exciting place be.
To find out more about Public’s research, visit our Insight page.