Organisations representing the London tech community have called on the next London Mayor to double down on encouraging investment and growth in the technology sector. The report outlines a series of initiatives to help the capital recover post-COVID and strengthen its reputation as a centre for innovation and growth.
The report’s authors (Tech London Advocates, techUK,. London First, HereEast, Plexal, Centre for London) argue that new Mayor of London, due to be elected on the 6th May, will:
“preside over a critical period in the history of UK tech – a time when technology is expected to drive the economic recovery, a time when the city is re-imagining its relationship with Europe and other international partners and a time when Londoners are asking hard questions about the future of work, diversity and inclusion and fair opportunities for all.”
The report outlines 12 core policy areas for the Mayor’s office to focus on:
- Champion tech companies
- Support technology-led solutions
- Invest in digital skills
- Showcase the best of London tech
- Engage with investors
- Stimulate cross-city collaboration across the UK
- Champion a fair and managed immigration system
- Introduce a diversity tsar
- Realise the potential of data for London
- People, society and planet
- Invest in digital infrastructure
- Embrace transport innovation
Point 9 caught my eye with its focus on leveraging data to drive growth. In line with the UK’s national government’s recent call for more and better data sharing across the private sector, the report asks for the principles of the London Data Charter to be embedded in the policy:
“The strategy should reflect the Data for London (DfL) framework proposed by the London Data Commission. This framework aims to create a world class data sharing platform to harness the potential of the city’s anonymised data to better target public services, plan infrastructure and identify opportunities for local growth and innovation. Commit to long term sustainable investment in the London Datastore to support these ambitions and allow it to play a pivotal role as a registry of all critical city data and in establishing City Data Trusts to solve some of London’s critical challenges.”
I wouldn’t argue with any of the recommendations put forward in the report. Post-COVID and with the uncertainty still around Brexit’s impact on the economy, investing in better infrastructure and skills is essential across the whole country and not just London.
Responding to the report, Sadiq Khan the Labour incumbent and favourite to win said:
“Technology companies have a huge role to play, not only in helping our city bounce-back economically from this pandemic, but in helping to build a brighter and more prosperous future for all Londoners. That’s why, if I’m re-elected, I’ll continue to champion our tech sector, making the case for improved access to talent and standing up for a regulatory environment that supports – and encourages – enterprise and innovation. There’s no doubt that international promotion is more and more important, and so we’ll continue to do all we can to ensure that London stands out as an attractive option on the world stage.”
My visit to the King’s Cross redevelopment site a couple of weeks ago and looking at the still far from finished Google HQ made me realise how much work there is to be done. I last visited the site almost 2 years ago and the Google building site did not look much different this time. I hope whoever becomes Mayor they use their fairly limited powers to do what they can to keep tech investments flowing into the capital.