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Industry leaders call on next London Mayor to prioritise technology

Ahead of the mayoral election, Tech London Advocates, techUK and Centre for London produce a manifesto lobbying for “a truly digital city”

Tech London Advocates, techUK and Centre for London have called on the next Mayor of London to make sure the capital remains “the digital capital of Europe”.

The three industry leaders have published a manifesto entitled London’s Digital Future: The Mayoral Tech Manifesto 2016 in which they set out a series of policy recommendations.

The recommendations cover five areas, including “future-proofing London”, infrastructure, investment, skills and immigration, and a digital London government.

It calls on the next mayor to harness the expertise that already exists in the capital “to turn London from a digitally friendly capital into a digitally powered one”.

“The Mayor has a unique role to play in making this happen: as a convenor, bringing together public and private sector interests to broker solutions; as a champion, promoting London as a global hub of digital excellence; and as a collaborator, working with the tech sector to address the challenges it faces, and ensuring that Londoners are equipped with the skills to benefit from all that the sector has to offer,” it said.

The manifesto’s recommendations include hiring a London chief digital officer “to collect, share and analyse data for improved public and private services” and conduct a London-wide innovation audit to “assess the effects of regulation on new digital services”.

Russ Shaw, founder of Tech London Advocates, said the technology sector “represents the best of London business” and must continue to thrive.

“Over the past five years, the technology industry has become a community it is impossible for City Hall to ignore,” he said.

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Visas for tech professionals

“Our Mayoral Tech Manifesto brings together the voice of the technology community and policy experts, to articulate the challenges faced by the industry and what is required from the next Mayor of London to support this dynamic industry.”

The manifesto calls on the mayor to advocate for visas being available to technology professionals to exploit skills from outside the UK as well as creating a digital apprenticeship “task force” to increase the quality and quantity of technology schemes.

Charlotte Holloway, associate director at techUK, said that the industry is looking for a mayor with “pro-innovation reflexes, who also understands how the latest in digital can benefit all Londoners”.

“We need a forward-looking City Hall that leads by example, from championing Digital Government to opening up the City’s data, to sticking up for London on the need for skilled migration,” she said.

Current mayor Boris Johnson has long been championing London as a technology capital and lobbied for stronger technology ties with other “tech” cities around the world such as Tokyo and Tel Aviv.

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