Mayor Sadiq Khan wants London to become the world’s leading ‘smart city’ and believes it is well placed to do so.

To reach his goal, he is launching a programme to get more young people into tech jobs, setting up a tech investor showcase and is currently midway through employing a dedicated chief digital officer for the capital.

London has more than 40,000 digital technology businesses employing around a quarter of a million people. More than a third of these were set up in the last five years and another 12,500 will have been created by 2025.

Then there are the more traditional industries using technology to transform business, such as FinTech.

Deputy mayor for business Rajesh Agrawal, speaking on behalf of Mr Khan, was involved in this area himself before he took up his post, having run money transfer businesses RationalFX and Xendpay.

“Digital tech is absolutely central to London’s future growth, economic diversity and resilience and I’m glad to say we’re very well placed,” he told BusinessCloud.

“We have a unique ecosystem for start-ups and international tech companies alike – access to an incredible pool of talent, the world’s leading financial centre, the most cosmopolitan and vibrant cultural and creative hub.”

London

Evidence of this, he says, is in the fact that London attracted more than a third of the £6.7bn invested in UK tech businesses in 2016.

“We now need to build on those strengths, while also ensuring that the government hears clearly the voice of the technology sector as the Brexit negotiations go forward,” he said.

One of the barriers to tech growth in London, as in other areas, is access to talent. Although the city has a world-class talent pool, the mayor and his deputy want to ensure a bigger homegrown supply, both to meet demand and to ensure more young Londoners have access to the opportunities the economy is creating.

To combat this, Khan has launched a digital talent programme to support young people from diverse backgrounds into careers in tech. This will also aim to ensure women aged 16-24 are encouraged into tech jobs and Khan is partnering with organisations that have experience of this to ramp up efforts.

He recently took a group of female founders on a trade mission to Silicon Valley and, as part of the Mayor’s International Business Programme in 2016, he took a delegation of 30 tech companies to meet investors in Chicago and New York.

Access to investment will also be provided after he launched the London Tech Investor Showcase this year, supporting innovative companies seeking investment.

Work is also going on to improve connectivity by tackling ‘notspots’, ensuring better access to public sector property for digital infrastructure. Agrawal says digital infrastructure should be treated as any other key public utility.

 Other initiatives include employing a chief digital officer to oversee the plans for technology. Agrawal says there was an extremely high calibre of applicants for the role, and the recruitment process is ongoing.

 “Sadiq has made it clear he wants London to become the world’s leading ‘smart city’ – with digital technology at the heart of making the capital an even better place to live, work and invest,” he said.

“We want to take the digital transformation of our public services to the next level, so we can improve the ways in which we plan and deliver public services for Londoners.

"The CDO will lead on that agenda across the capital, tasked with ensuring that London’s globally renowned reputation for technological innovation is used to transform the way that public services are delivered in London, making them more accessible, efficient, and better suited to the needs of Londoners.”

On Monday we featured the digital plans of Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham.

And on Tuesday we highlighted the challenges faced by Cambridgeshire and Peterborough mayor James Palmer.

Area: London

Mayor: Sadiq Khan

Digital jobs: 300,169

Digital GVA: £30bn

Digital tech turnover: £56bn

Average advertised digital salary: £61,803

Tech employers: Shazam, Rightmove, Funding Circle

Famous for: Being a world leader in digital tech, more than a third of Europe’s tech unicorns are in the capital. There are 200 co-working spaces for tech and four of the best universities in the world supplying the talent. Google and the Alan Turing Institute are based in the Knowledge Quarter.

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