This year’s Master Investor Show in London presented a view of a high tech future ripe with investment opportunities.
Exhibitors showcased everything from drones and diamonds, to virtual reality headsets and some of the very latest medical diagnostic machines.
Headline speakers at the event included the island’s own master investor, Jim Mellon; UKIP leader, Nigel Farage, and five-time Olympic gold medallist Sir Steven Redgrave.
Jim Mellon gave the audience his take on how he sees technology in all fields bringing big changes – and big investment opportunities.
Robotics, 3D printing, driverless cars, drones and major medical advances are all part of how he sees the future.
‘Technology,’ he told us, ‘is going to revolutionise our lives much sooner than we think.’
And it is also going to offer plenty of opportunities for investors, he promised, adding:
‘Embrace this technology: it’s happening and it’s going to be transformational.’
Of course these advances bring with them other implications which have to be considered. It’s not called disruptive technology for nothing. Last year alone, 136,000 robots were put into factories around the world which is good for productivity but has serious consequences for developing countries whose economies have traditionally been driven by very large, cheap labour forces.
And medical advances increasing life expectancy will mean adjustments in how – and when – we see our retirement, and how we are going to pay for it.
‘The number of people living to be over 100 years old is going to explode. This is going to mean a much expanded life expectancy for all of us and don’t expect the state to pay for our retirement,’ said Jim.
But, by and large, his view of the future is enticing and relentlessly positive and I asked him afterwards what aspect of it he found most appealing.
‘It’s a cumulative process of lots of technological change that adds up to one massive change in our lives and I don’t think there’s one thing that I can identify but, as an investor, I think biotech, which as you know I’ve been involved with for some time now, and robotics are the areas I am keenest on,’ he told me.
And from an Isle of Man perspective, what sort of opportunities is this new technological revolution going to offer?
Jim believes that our excellent IT infrastructure, initially created to facilitate the eGaming industry, could find a new and lucrative purpose.
‘Management of medical data would go very well with the existing facilities and the matching of genome sequencing to cloud-based applications which look for disease indications is going to be a huge business.
‘So, for instance, one example would be patient record management. It’s going to be enormous where you can travel round the world and your records will be accessible to any doctor you go to.
‘More importantly where there is a lifetime record of everything that you’ve ever had done to you which is matched to the medications and everything else you’ve been given: that doesn’t exist at the moment but it is coming and it’s coming very soon.
‘And then if you have your genome sequence or at least partial genome sequence - which we all will, very, very soon - they can send it up into the cloud and match it against a list of known mutations that need to be looked at.
‘This is because in cancer treatment, as an example, personalised medicine, or precision medicine as they call it, will change the outcomes of dread disease enormously if that can be managed.
‘That’s going to be a massive IT job and the Isle of Man could do that and they need to think about that.’
The Isle of Man was well represented at the event, with Port Erin Biopharma, Manx Financial Group and the Isle of Man Government all taking stands.
Paul Maddocks, from the Department of Economic Development, was manning the Isle of Man Government stand. He told me: ‘We are promoting Isle of Man PLC and we have had a wide interest from people in different aspects of what the Isle of Man has to offer.
‘Being at Master Investor has given us the opportunity to connect with a number of business opportunities for the island.’
It will certainly have raised the profile of the island among the investment community: with around 4,500 attendees and with all 100 exhibition stands occupied, Master Investor is set to become the UK’s biggest investment show.
Given its success, I asked Jim Mellon, who has been a driving force behind the show, what he hoped it would achieve.
He said: ‘I think what I want to do is to create a network where people who are genuinely interested in investment, who understand that disruption is coming, understand that you can’t invest in the status quo, are able to cross-fertilise ideas in a positive fashion.
‘You have to have a positive view of humanity and of corporate governance in general – of course there are crooks, of course there are bad people out there, but generally most people do their best and if you understand that and you collaborate and you share information you will do much better as an investor.’