London: Mayor launches tech initiatives to boost innovation
Written by: Sam Fenwick | Published:
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, today (2 November) launched two new tech initiatives to boost the sector and help harness the capital’s tech talent to make life better for Londoners.

Speaking at WIRED Live at Tobacco Dock in east London, the Mayor announced that City Hall will fund 20 investment days over the next four years, to give innovative tech firms the opportunity to attract crucial funding to enable them to grow.

Each event – run by the UK Business Angels Association – will focus on a specific area of tech and will offer coaching to the leaders of these companies, as well as directly linking them with investors. The GLA will provide £280,000 in funding, which will be matched in kind by the UKBAA. The programme will be structured so it will be entirely self-funding by the end of the four years.

Khan also announced that Bloomberg Associates – Michael Bloomberg's philanthropic municipal consultancy – will help shape the new Smart London Plan, in partnership with the Smart London Board.

The document will lay out in detail how the Mayor plans to achieve his ambition of harnessing the new technologies being pioneered in the capital to transform London into one of the world’s leading smart cities.

“London’s tech sector is already the envy of cities the across the globe and I’m determined to ensure we become the world’s leading tech hub,” said Khan.

“Since I became Mayor, the capital has attracted significant investment from the biggest players in this sector – Google, Facebook and Apple, to name just three.

“This is a clear sign London is open for business – but beyond these huge names, London remains a fantastic breeding ground for innovative young tech firms looking to break new ground across a range of industries.

“With the two initiatives I’m announcing today, we will enable these start-ups to grow and develop, as well as harness the expertise and innovative across our tech sector to help make life better for all Londoners.”

CEO of the UK Business Angels Association, Jenny Tooth OBE, said: “London is a global centre of tech innovation and we are delighted to be supporting this initiative by showcasing some of the most exciting innovators from across the capital to leading players in the investment community.

“This will enable these businesses to access the finance they need to successfully build and scale.”

Sadiq made a commitment in his manifesto to take tech in the capital to the next level by removing barriers to growth and ensuring London becomes a global tech hub. He has launched a series of measures in this area. Most recently, in August he appointed London’s first-ever chief digital officer, Theo Blackwell, who will lead on ensuring the city’s tech expertise and talent feeds into providing better public services for Londoners.

Khan also announced a £7 million Digital Talent programme which will tackle the growing shortage in digitally-skilled workers – focussing on Londoners aged 16-24, particularly women and those from a BAME background.

Bloomberg recently launched its new European headquarters in the heart of the City of London, which will soon be home to all 4,000 of the company’s UK-based staff.

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