London Mayor Sadiq Khan used his speech at the launch of London Tech Week yesterday to outline his vision for London to become the world’s leading Smart City, with digital technology and data at the heart of making the capital an even better place to live, work and invest.
In his speech, the Mayor said technology is essential to solving many of the biggest economic, social and environmental challenges we face. He called on the global tech community to help tackle issues such air pollution, housing and the future of transport.
As part of his plans, the Mayor has unveiled a new £1.6m Clean Tech Incubator called Better Futures which will help 100 London-based small businesses to deliver low-carbon and clean-tech products to tackle the causes and effects of climate change. Better Futures will help kick start the development of a clean-tech cluster for London, developing a hub for low-carbon industries in the capital.
London is already Europe’s leading tech hub, attracting talent, innovation and investment from around the world. However, the Mayor wants to see the capital become the leading global city in the use of smart technologies and data to improve public services and city life. According to a recent report by IESE Centre for Globalisation and Strategy, London is already Europe’s leading smart city, and is second only to New York in the global rankings.
In his speech to London’s tech community, the Mayor reaffirmed his pledge to appoint London’s first chief digital officer (CDO). The process of filling the position is underway, and the CDO will work with the Mayor’s Office, the Mayor’s Smart London Board, local authorities and the technology sector to drive the development of smart city technologies and to build London’s reputation as the city that the world looks to for leadership in urban innovation.
Office of Technology and Innovation
The Mayor’s Office is also currently scoping the potential for a new London Office of Technology and Innovation to provide a place where London’s boroughs can come together to share best practice, build collaboration and drive solutions to the challenges they face.
Sadiq Khan said: “As Mayor of this great city – the best city in the world – it fills me with pride to see our tech sector thriving. New technologies are having an enormous impact on our way of life - reshaping our societies, our economies and our culture. My ambition now is to harness the new technologies that are being pioneered right here to transform London into the world’s leading smart city.
“The potential for cutting-edge technology to tackle a host of social, economic and environmental challenges is immeasurable. From air pollution and climate change to housing and transport, new technologies and data science will be at the heart of the long-term solutions to urban challenges.”
Plexal mini city
To coincide with the launch of London Tech Week, the Mayor also officially opened Plexal, Europe’s newest technology innovation destination, and also Europe’s biggest business innovation ecosystem at Here East. Spanning 68,000 square feet, Plexal has been built on the principles of a mini city & will support 800 technology start-ups and global corporations from across the world.
In addition, the former British Paralympic gold medallists, Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson and Lord Chris Holmes MBE, launched The Global Disability Innovation Programme, a new accelerator designed to encourage the development of technologies to improve the lives of people living with disabilities.
The programme, which is run in partnership with Plexal and UCL, will bring together disabled and able-bodies experts, users and start-ups with corporates to accelerate the development of innovative businesses and products around disability.
Entrepreneurs and start-ups on the programme will focus on the development of innovations in areas such as accessible and affordable housing, transportation and how big data and analytics can be used to have a positive impact on the lives of disabled people around the world.