Next Mayor of London ‘must prioritise tech’

A manifesto has been put forward outlining the key steps the next Mayor of London needs to take in order to maintain the city’s position as the digital capital of Europe.

Compiled by a triumvirate of Tech London Advocates, Centre for London and techUK, London’s Digital Future: The Mayoral Tech Manifesto 2016  aims to guide the next mayor in securing London’s position as the digital capital of Europe.

The product of a poll of more than 300 members of the city’s tech community, the manifesto outlines the key areas that will prove most important in boosting the city’s digital prospects across five areas: future-proofing London; infrastructure, investment and funding; skills, immigration and funding; and digital government.

Key recommendations include:

  • Hire a London Chief Digital Officer to collect, share and analyse data for improved public and private services
  • Take the London message global through trade missions that champion every sector of London’s digital economy
  • Conduct a comprehensive London-wide Innovation Audit to assess the effects of regulation on new digital services
  • Establish a tech talent pipeline to work with educators and entrepreneurs to equip Londoners with the digital skills needed to survive and thrive
  • Be bold on visas for tech professionals by protecting the Tier 2 visa and look at options for reinstating the Post-Study Work visa
  • Support a full digital inclusion strategy for all Londoners

Those polled suggested that showcasing London’s tech leadership internationally and investing more significantly in the talent pipeline were the most important priorities for the private sector. A shortage of talent was noted as the single biggest obstacle facing the city’s technology industry.


Up for debate

The Manifesto has been presented to the main mayoral candidates who will have the opportunity to respond to the policy recommendations at DebateTech, a formal technology hustings event taking place in February.

The full list of policy recommendations included in the manifesto are:

  • Conduct an Innovation Audit
  • Full digital inclusion strategy
  • World-class cyber security
  • Plan ahead for broadband
  • From notspots to hotspots for broadband
  • Shore up the supply of commercial space
  • Take the London message global
  • Prioritise investment incentives
  • Build a tech talent pipeline
  • Champion digital apprenticeships
  • Be bold on visas
  • Hire a London Chief Digital Officer
  • Create an Open Data Charter

Ben Rogers, director of Centre for London, said: “The responsibility of the next Mayor of London is to ensure that London gets the best of the digital revolution. This is not about a set of policies for one sector, but a set of policies that will benefit London as a whole.”

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