Simon De Young, Senior Partner, PwC Cambridge, shares his view on the Cambridge tech scene and why he is proud to be a supporter and headline sponsor of CTW23.  PwC are sponsors of the Perspectives session on Artificial Intelligence, on Tuesday 9th May, where we will welcome speaker Maria Axente, Responsible AI lead for PwC.

What is your personal interest in the Cambridge Tech ecosystem?

Cambridge and the wider East of England region is rich with a broad base of traditional industries including Real Estate, Agriculture, Manufacturing, Consumer and Leisure. This balance drives a strong culture of innovation across the region including Norwich, Ipswich, Peterborough and Stevenage.  

I studied at the University of Cambridge and have lived in the East of England region for over 16 years and Cambridge for the last seven, and the Cambridge Tech ecosystem stands out for me by how it drives forward innovation through collaboration. I am interested in connecting people and ideas and so could not imagine a better place to do both. 

Why is PwC playing such a pivotal role in sponsoring CTW23? 

We think that Cambridge Tech Week has an important role to play in both the Cambridge Tech Ecosystem but also in maintaining Cambridge’s pre-eminence for innovation. We think it is a very different event to other larger tech weeks and this focus allows us as an organisation to drive more value for our clients and local businesses through sponsoring CTW23. 

We have chosen to sponsor the AI session at Cambridge Tech Week 2023 chaired by Melissa Heikkilä, Senior Reporter, AI, MIT Technology Review. 

A shift to new digital human and ecosystems supported by Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML) and deep tech, have the power to change our environmental and societal outcomes for the better. It’s exciting to discuss how we are maximising the opportunities this technology brings across a wide variety of sectors.   

CEOs within the UK and globally are doubling down on investments in talent and technology because the need to transform their business for long-term growth is inescapable. PwC’s CEO survey found that 61% of CEOs investing in technology are doing so with an emphasis on reinventing, rather than just maintaining their current business. 

PwC’s CEO survey also finds that AI, automation and cloud are the current focus of tech investment, with 86% of CEOs saying they are investing in automating processes and systems whilst 77% are investing in deploying advanced technologies such as cloud and AI. 

If I can quote from my colleague Tom Lewis, Technology Partner, PwC UK:  “AI can help organisations automate tasks so teams can be upskilled and redeployed. But it’s not just an efficiency play, it’s key to enabling organisations to move at speed and make better data-driven decisions. Cloud can help reduce cost and complexity today, but is also the foundation on which digital transformations will be built, from quickly delivering new services and platforms to giving organisations more advanced analytics capabilities and creating closer integration, across businesses, ecosystems and supply chains.” 

What role does PwC play in the Cambridge Tech Ecosystem? 


We’ve been serving our clients in and around Cambridge for over 25 years and we are proud of our local links with the wider community.  

We are based at St John’s Innovation Park, in the heart of the tech ecosystem, and we use our office to convene and support innovation. We have a national and global reach as a business and have technology centres across the UK in Reading, Manchester, London and Belfast.   

We use our global and national outreach to connect our global clients to the innovation opportunities that arise within the Cambridge Tech Ecosystem and want to support our clients to use innovation to drive transformation and growth in their businesses.  If you are a tech scale up and want to discuss how you can work with global multinational companies or you are a global business that wants to work with innovation or scale up companies we are keen to speak to you.   

What is the PwC interest in AI? 


PwC has been a pioneer in Responsible AI, making it a top priority in how we work with AI and advise our clients. Our latest announcement on the investment in generative AI further underscores our commitment to responsible AI. As part of our leadership in this space, we have researched and understood different perspectives on the ethics, risks, and governance of AI. We have incorporated these findings into our thinking and are working with partners from academia, civil society, and public policy to build a shared understanding of the issues around AI’s impact. 

Part of Maria’s research at the Intellectual Forum at Jesus College focuses on bridging perspectives from industry and academia on human-centred AI. Maria is co-authoring a book, “Human-Centred AI: a Multidisciplinary Perspective for Policy-Makers, Auditors, and Users,” with HAICU Lab, a U7+ initiative of 13 universities from around the world.  

What are you most looking forward to at CTW23? 

I am very much looking forward to the Big Tech Debate at the Cambridge Union on Thursday 11th May, particularly the Tech Question Time session. 

Cambridge enjoys sparking debate and challenge, so I am looking forward to learning more about what matters to the businesses joining this. The Generative AI session is also on my must attend list. PwC has started to explore how we use Generative AI and I am aware this is an issue that causes both different and difficult viewpoints. I am looking forward to hearing the breadth of opinions, opportunities and challenges we need to focus on going forward to make Generative AI a valuable business partner for all of us in the future.