Mayor outlines vision to make London the tech capital of the world
The Mayor Boris Johnson today (Thursday, March 13) outlined his vision to make London the tech capital of the world and drive jobs and growth across the city.
Tech City, the heart of London’s tech sector, has become the biggest cluster in Europe over the last three years, growing out of east London to span the entire capital. The sector currently reaches as far as the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, which has more than a million square feet of space and will be ripe both for new start-ups and more established corporations. The Mayor wants Tech City to inspire even more companies of all sizes to call London home.
Today, a new YouGov survey of tech firms based in London reveals that 84 per cent believe the outlook is bright for their sector, with 61 per cent saying the fact that London’s a global business hub benefits their business and 71 per cent believing being based in the capital will help them attract the investment they need.
The Mayor today announced he has brought together some of the biggest names in London’s tech industry to champion the sector around the globe. Kathryn Parsons, Co-CEO Decoded, a company which brings digital literacy to thousands, Gerard Grech, CEO of Tech City UK and the well-known entrepreneur and investor Sherry Coutu are among nine tech leaders who will act as ambassadors for the capital as part of the Mayor’s new London Tech Ambassadors Group.
A key moment in the drive to position London as the tech capital of the world will be the city’s inaugural Technology Week taking place from June 16 to 20, drawing tens of thousands of people from across the globe and providing an unrivalled opportunity to showcase London’s technology credentials.
The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson said: “There is nowhere to rival London for tech firms to thrive and grow – we have the talent, the investors, and the entrepreneurial spirit. Our tech offer now spans the capital in its entirety, from Tottenham to Croydon and from Wembley to Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. I want London's world-class tech sector to be as well known around the globe as our tourism, arts and financial services - it certainly deserves to be. London is where it all comes together. We need to build on this impressive growth and champion London as the global leader for ambitious tech companies.”
The Mayor today visited the TechHub accelerator at Old Street, where he was joined by some of the world’s leading tech industry figures, including Mind Candy CEO Michael Acton Smith OBE, Facebook VP EMEA Nicola Mendelsohn and fresh from their Oscar winning success CEO of Framestore Sir William Sargent. Together with key stakeholders they championed the sector, which has grown out of east London and is home to some of the world’s most innovative and creative technology businesses.
Boris Johnson welcomed three new firms to the capital: Park Jockey, a US company that has developed a free smartphone app to book and find car parks, Deya Tech, a Chinese company which specialises in providing document management software and Solocal, a French e-commerce giant that deals with online classified ads and directories.
The Tech City initiative was launched by Prime Minister David Cameron and the Mayor Boris Johnson in November 2010 to support the growth of the technology cluster. Tech City’s growth, combined with the development of creative industries and the Olympic legacy, has been a major factor in the regeneration of East London, resulting not only in more tech firms in the region but also wider economic growth through new hotels, restaurants and other service industries.
London now has 32 accelerators and incubators for start-up companies, out of 50 in the UK. Between 2010 and 2013, more than 340 London-based tech companies have attracted investment of over £1.47bn* and, in since the start of this year alone, two London companies have been sold for £1bn.
The Mayor has long been supporting London’s tech community. In December 2013 he announced his commitment to promote computer science in the capitals schools in order to increase its uptake, while the number of businesses taking on technology apprenticeships will be doubled.
The Mayor has also commissioned a Long Term Infrastructure Investment Plan that will ensure London has the infrastructure needed – including broadband access – to remain one of the best cities in the world to live, work and do business in.
In addition, the Mayor’s £24m London Schools Excellence Fund is funding four computer science projects working in 438 schools with 1,600 teachers covering both primary and secondary schools.
London’s creative and digital talent base is often cited as a key component of its tech success. Sir Will Sargent, CEO Framestore, which has just won an Oscar for its work on the hit film Gravity and is based in Soho, said: “London is now at the heart of Europe’s digital imaging world. The creative and artistic talent in this city present a world-class resource across any industry seeking to create engaging and entertaining imagery. Gravity displays London and Framestore’s ingenuity, creativity and effectiveness with budgets at its best.”
Nicola Mendelsohn, Vice President EMEA Facebook, said: “London is a rich source of engineering and technology talent. We opened our office here because the best people are already here and we keep playing an active role in this ecosystem which is second to none. London is a great place to be for building the future.”
Deputy Mayor for London Kit Malthouse will chair the London Tech Ambassadors Group. Mr Malthouse, who is also Chairman of London’s promotional organisation, London & Partners, said: “I am delighted at the creation of this new group of tech ambassadors, which contains some of London’s most high profile advocates for its wildly successful tech sector. These ambassadors will provide a voice for the industry and ensure that London’s tech firms continue to develop and grow. The ambassadors will allow start-ups to thrive as they bring new ideas to the table.”
Michael Acton Smith, CEO Mind Candy, the company behind Moshi Monsters, said: “'We love being based in London. It's a vibrant and very varied city with a deep tech talent pool, great government support, and the occasional days of glorious sunshine. It's a hotbed of fashion, finance, entertainment and media industries which leads to a very creative environment to forge new tech start-ups."