London tech manifesto calls on next Mayor of London to champion city’s tech companies


Ahead of next month’s Mayoral election, the leading organisations shaping London’s digital economy have published the London Tech Manifesto, a series of policy recommendations for the next Mayor of London.

The recommendations – developed by Tech London Advocates, Here East, Plexal, techUK, Centre for London and London First – outline a roadmap to continue the growth of London’s tech companies and ensure the city is embracing emerging technologies.

The Manifesto includes recommendations for how the next Mayor of London can support tech companies in the city’s post-pandemic economic recovery, increase investment in digital skills, diversity and digital infrastructure. It also calls on the next Mayor to make London a global capital for digital citizenship.

The recommendations include a focus on the importance of talent and diversity in tech – an industry with the potential to address London’s growing unemployment crisis as demand for tech jobs continues to outstrip supply. As part of this, the authors of the Manifesto have called for a Diversity Tsar to be implemented alongside London’s Chief Digital Officer.

Having been issued with the Manifesto this week, the candidates for the four main political parties responded to the recommendations from the tech sector at the ‘London Tech Manifesto for the 2020s’ event, yesterday. In front of a virtual audience, Sadiq Khan (Labour), Shaun Bailey (Conservative), Sian Berry (Green) and Luisa Perrit (Liberal Democrat) shared their views for the capital’s most dynamic sector. They can be viewed here.

The authors of the report last issued a Manifesto for the Mayoral election in 2016. Many of the recommendations were implemented by Sadiq Khan’s administration, including establishing a Chief Digital Officer.

The 12 policy recommendations issued by the Manifesto authors are summarised as follows:

  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

Despite the unprecedented impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, London’s technology sector has shown its remarkable resilience, attracting a record £8.6bn in investment last year – more than any single country in Europe. However, 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.

With the potential to define the future of the capital’s economic growth, the next Mayor of London will preside over a critical period in the history of UK tech, an industry with significant influence on the country’s broader fortunes as the UK re-establishes its global status.

Russ Shaw CBE, Founder, Tech London Advocates & Global Tech Advocates, comments: “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. The responsibility resting on the industry’s shoulders is greater than ever, with a city desperate for a return to economic growth, job creation and innovations that can improve the lives of UK citizens.

“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.”

Claire Harding, Research Director, Centre for London, comments: “London has been badly bruised by the pandemic but amidst the crisis, the city’s tech sector has proved remarkably resilient. Technology is set to play an even more important role as our city adapts to life after the pandemic and as we respond to the climate emergency. The next Mayor has an exciting opportunity to capitalise on London’s position as a world-leading tech city by supporting technology-led routes to recovery and equipping Londoners with the skills to thrive in our transforming job market.”

Gavin Poole, CEO, Here East, comments: “London has faced many new challenges over the last year – to recover, the next mayor must represent the mayor of growth. Far from maintaining the status quo by prioritising the traditional financial services, London’s leader must evolve as the city does. This means remembering the lessons from the last financial crash and supporting businesses in sectors such as the creative industries and technology that will pave the way to growth and recovery.”

Andrew Roughan, Managing Director, Plexal, comments: “London is facing problems that are too big for any one company or government department to solve. To overcome challenges around diversity and skills, climate change and public transport pressures, we need the public and private sectors to work together to develop and deploy innovative, tech-enabled solutions. The next Mayor of London has an opportunity to build on the progress of the past decade and work with the city’s critical mass of world-class entrepreneurs to create a city that cleaner, safer and fairer than before.”

David Lutton, Executive Director for Connectivity, London First, comments: “The pandemic has shown the vital role data can play in coordinating city-level activities, and we can no longer ignore the economic and social benefits that data-led transformation can bring. The next Mayor of London has the opportunity to build on the successes of the London Datastore, and create solutions for public health, education, and transport, that can positively shape the lives of Londoners for decades to come.”

Antony Walker, techUK Deputy CEO, comments: “The COVID-19 pandemic is a historic challenge, not just to our health and economy, but to build a fairer and more inclusive London in the aftermath. Technology can play a vital role in this by helping redesign the way we manage work, train our workforce and deliver our public services. Since the last Mayoral election, the creation of London’s first Chief Digital Officer, the launch of the Civic Innovation Challenge and creation of the London Office of Technology and Innovation, have played a crucial role in cementing London’s position as a true global leader in tech. The 2021 election promises an even greater reward, with the ideas presented in the Manifesto, such as the support for technology-led solutions and investment in digital skills, providing a pathway to utilise technology and innovation to position London as the most attractive and liveable capital in the world.”