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London tech leaders demand next Mayor champions technology to help city bounce back from Brexit and Covid

Jim Armitage
·3-min read
<p>Mayoral candidates will answer tech industry questions </p> (PA)

Mayoral candidates will answer tech industry questions


Leading London tech industry players today demanded the next Mayor does more to champion technology as the city fights to recover from the economic impact of Covid and Brexit.

In a Manifesto for London technology, the city’s tech trade bodies have come together to call for the new Mayor to invest more in digital skills to build on the city’s growing tech workforce.

The manifesto also demands a “diversity tsar” to be appointed to the city, alongside the mayor’s chief digital officer.

Candidates of the four main parties - Sadiq Khan, Shaun Bailey, Sian Berry and Luisa Perrit will respond at an event on April 20.

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The 12 policy recommendations issued by the Manifesto authors are:

  1. Champion tech companies to drive London’s long-term economic recovery 

  2. Support technology-led solutions for the future of work and reopening the economy post-COVID-19 

  3. Invest in digital skills – support the public and private sectors to meet new employment needs 

  4. Showcase the best of London tech by supporting the sector in diversifying across the city’s boroughs 

  5. Engage with investors – work to attract greater inbound investment from a range of global partners 

  6. Stimulate cross-city collaboration across the UK by working closely with the country’s city mayors 

  7. Champion a fair and managed immigration system – present London as open and welcoming to international tech talent 

  8. Introduce a diversity tsar – appoint someone responsible for diversity in tech and business to support the Chief Digital Officer 

  9. Realise the potential of data for London – unlocking and optimising the value of data for London, ethically and responsibly 

  10. People, planet and society – outline and prioritise the key challenges facing London 

  11. Invest in digital infrastructure – remove barriers to 5G rollout and create a Gigabit Connectivity Taskforce 

  12. Embrace transport innovation by encouraging micro-mobility and mobility platforms 

The report’s authors said London’s tech sector had shown “remarkable resilience” through the Covid pandemic, attracting a record £8.6 billion in investment last year, which is more than any other European country.

But they warned: “Monumental societal shifts in the form of Brexit and the COVID-19 pandemic have exacerbated existing issues such as access to early stage investment, tech industry diversity, and sourcing international skilled workers.”

This meant the next Mayor of London would be presiding over a “critical period in the history of UK tech” as the country attempts to re-establish its global status post Brexit.

Russ Shaw, founder of Tech London Advocates, said: “While the next Mayor of London will inherit a resilient tech sector, there is significant work to be done to overcome the challenges created by a turbulent year.”

“For London to continue as one of the world’s leading tech hubs, the Mayor will have a unique role by working with central government and the private sector to ensure the necessary infrastructure, regulatory and legislative environment is in place for tech businesses to flourish.

“With more stability on the horizon, the opportunity in front of London tech and UK tech is significant – we must grab it with both hands.”

The manifesto was written by Tech London Advocates, Here East, Plexal, techUK, Centre for London and London First.

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