On the 5th of May 2016 London will elect a new Mayor.
London’s future as a digital city, the size of its digital economy and growth plans for fintech, investment and skills will be key election issues.
In the capital at least 382,000 people are employed in the tech and information sectors and it is responsible for 30% of the capital’s job growth since 2009.
Tech London Advocates in partnership with techUK and Centre for London have published a manifesto, "London’s Digital Future: The Mayoral Tech Manifesto."
The report says: "London has the opportunity to lead a second wave of digital transformation, not just as a hub for tech companies, but as the world’s leading digital city."
In a survey of over 300 members of London’s technology community the manifesto found that the biggest (43%) barrier to growth in the industry is a shortage of talent and that this should be one of the priorities for the next mayor.
It cited research showing that currently around 18% of Londoners have no basic digital skills. The report recommended the new mayor should address basic digital skills with private sector support for training software developers.
The manifesto said: "We call on the new Mayor to make full digital inclusion for Londoners a top priority, and convene a working group in the first 100 days of the new administration, with the key organisations working on digital inclusivity in London."
Cyber security threats are a major concern to London businesses, with the scale of the threat highlighted by the Office of National Statistics which estimates that in the year to June 2015 there were a total of 2.5 million cyber crime incidents.
To combat this the manifesto says that the Mayor could work more closely with the private sector and the Met police to help make sure that companies and citizens are best equipped to deal with cyber threats.
London’s digital firms raised £2.28bn in investment in 2015, a 69% increase on 2014, but one third of companies surveyed for Tech City UK’s Tech Nation report identified access to funding as a challenge.
59.5% of those surveyed found the pre-seed and seed stages as the most difficult points at which to obtain capital.
In the manifesto the organisations advise that the Mayor should prioritise investment incentives such as the Enterprise Investment Scheme and the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme, while focus should also be placed on taking the London message global through trade missions.
The upcoming referendum of British membership of the European Union is also of concern. In a 2015 survey of techUK members it was found that 71% favour staying in a reformed European Union, while 17% said they would stay regardless of further reforms. One of the main reasons for staying is that many (78%) believe that the UK would lose influence on the issues that impact their business if it were to leave the EU.
Candidates pictured above are (left to right)
Zac Goldsmith MP, Conservative
Sadiq Khan MP, Labour
Caroline Pidgeon, Liberal Democrat
Sian Berry, Green
Peter Whittle, UKIP