By Steve McCaskill
Industry body TechUK has called for the election of a "truly digital" Mayor of London that will promote the capital's technology firms, and encourage the sector's growth through the establishment of favorable conditions for investment.
Londoners will vote for their next Mayor on May 5, when the Conservative candidate Zac Goldsmith and his Labour counterpart Sadiq Khan are the frontrunners to succeed the incumbent Boris Johnson, who has sought to position himself as a champion of technology during his eight years in power.
TechUK wants the next Mayor to build on this and, along with Tech London Advocates and Centre for London, has published a manifesto outlining what needed to be done to maintain London's position as "the digital capital of Europe."
Digital Mayor of London
"London's fast-changing tech scene is looking for a Mayor with pro-innovation reflexes, who also understands how the latest in digital can benefit all Londoners," said Charlotte Holloway, associate director at TechUK. "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."
The manifesto calls for the new Mayor to promote every sector of London's digital economy through trade missions, assess the potential impact of regulation on new digital services, protect visas for foreign workers and establish a "tech talent pipeline."
Other recommendations include the appointment of a Chief Digital Officer and the creation of an Open Data Charter to boost public and private services, along with a digital inclusion strategy that ensures all citizens benefit from technology. The document also wants world-class cyber-security, better broadband for businesses, investment incentives and more commercial space for tech firms.
"Over the past five years, the technology industry has become a community [that] it is impossible for City Hall to ignore," added Russ Shaw, founder of Tech London Advocates. "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."
Recent research from London & Partners, which acts of behalf of the Mayor of London regarding investment and expansion, suggested London-based tech firms secured more than £1 billion in investment during 2015.