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London Tech Week: Brexit won’t harm London tech sector, says city’s mayor

London mayor Sadiq Khan opens London Tech Week and says Brexit will not hold back the city's growing tech sector

Speaking in east London at the launch of this year’s London Tech Week, mayor Sadiq Khan said the city will remain open to talent from around the world despite the threats posed by Brexit to the city’s tech sector.

“Whatever challenges we have to overcome, this city is resolutely open to global talent, global partnerships and global businesses,” said Khan.

“As mayor of London, I will do everything in my power to safeguard London’s global competitiveness and our status as a leader in innovation, particularly ensuring we can access the top talent after Brexit,” he added.

“Regardless of the uncertainty caused by the European Union referendum result, I know the London tech sector will continue to prosper.”

He said London tech firms have attracted more than £1bn in capital investment from tech companies – including Facebook, Google and Apple – since the referendum.

Khan’s determination will be welcomed by the London tech sector after recent research from Tech London Advocates, a network of 4,600 tech experts, found that 29% do not think London will be the favoured place in Europe to make tech investments over the next five years.

The fourth London Tech Week, which is expected to attract more than 50,000 visitors to hundreds of events across London, is described as a festival that showcases London’s strength in the tech sector.

At the launch, the mayor also announced the opening of the latest tech innovation hub in east London, known as Plexal. The 68,000ft2 facility will support 800 tech startups and global corporations, and there is hope the hub will attract worldwide interest.

Car maker Ford is investing in London tech. Steven Armstrong, president of Europe, the Middle East and Africa (Emea) at Ford, said the company is opening an office in east London to focus on mobility tech for European cities.

Read more about Brexit and its impact on UK IT industry

Khan also outlined plans to make London a leading smart city. “My ambition now is to harness the new technologies that are being pioneered right to transform London into the world’s leading smart city,” he said.

“The potential for cutting-edge technology to tackle a host of social, economic and environmental challenges is immeasurable.”

For example, the recently launched Global Disability Innovation Programme is set to tackle problems faced by those with disabilities, with the startup accelerator developing technology to improve the lives of disabled people. The programme was anounced by British Paralympic gold medalists Tanni Grey-Thompson and Chris Holmes.

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