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Suzi Perry: On meeting top CEOs, hackathons and the complexity of simple tech

Sport isn’t Suzi Perry’s only passion. She’s also well informed on the ins-and-outs of tech, which she explores in her BBC1 special, Invented in London.

Suzi Perry is best known as one of the most prominent presenters in MotoGP and F1. She has worked with the BBC, Sky and BT Sport.

However, Perry’s knowledge spans far beyond cockpits and pit stops. Having spent many years on The Gadget Show, Perry knows more than most when it comes to tech, too.Suzi Perry - Compelo

Her BBC1 show, Invented in London, looks into how London came to be the tech capital of Europe.

To find out more, we spoke to Perry about her time in the world of tech:

Tell us about Invented in London. What is the show about?

It’s about tracing the history of tech in the city from its very early roots of Charles Babbage, who invented the world’s first computer in the 1800s, and Ada Lovelace who worked with Babbage as a computer programmer, right up to the present day of AI, apps and hackathons. London is a major hub in the world of technology and we wanted to celebrate that fact.

How did you get involved?

I’ve always been into tech. I’m particularly fascinated about how new innovations affect normal people’s everyday lives. I hadn’t really found the right technology project for me since my days on the Gadget Show so when I heard about Invented In London I jumped at the chance of being involved.

What are the most interesting things you learnt from doing the show about the world of inventors that you didn’t know before?

The whole hackathon scene is amazing. It’s like old school garden shed inventing brought into the 21st century. The people involved are really inspiring and it’s easy to see why so many technology giants are keen to utilise their skills. It’s so exciting to witness a new generation of inventors.

Tell us about going behind-the-scenes at Deliveroo? They are a real start-up success story – what do you think are their secrets?

As Will Shu, the CEO of Deliveroo, says that the basic idea behind Deliveroo is incredibly simple, it’s the execution of that idea that is so clever. Their tech team is at the very cutting cutting edge of programming and their apps (that’s the customer facing one we all know, plus the drivers’ app and also the one designed for their restaurants) do an incredible job of crunching some very complex data. I had no idea ordering a takeaway demanded such advanced technology!

What is a hackathon and how can they help both entrepreneurs and businesses?

In basic terms it’s a gathering of programmers and coders who meet in a competitive environment to invent things. It’s an ‘invention marathon’ that shows existing businesses how their products can be modified in ways they may never have envisaged. Hackathons are breeding grounds for new inventors so are the ideal place for companies to talent scout.

What would your advice be to global investors looking to invest in London-based start-ups?

London has so much in its favour, it’s a true global powerhouse and is home to some very talented and entrepreneurial people. The mushrooming of tech start-ups, particularly in East London has been incredible to witness, and I feel businesses feed on the creative buzz of the city. As Will from Deliveroo says in the show, he feels his business wouldn’t have worked as well as it has in any other place on Earth, due to the talent available and its ripeness for investors.

Invented in London, presented by Suzi Perry, is on BBC One in London tonight at 7.30pm [Friday 23 June]

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