London, the megapolis that geographically at least is the “centre of the world.” Londoners can start the day working (virtually) with Tokyo, Shanghai or Delhi and end the day with colleagues in LA or San Francisco – if they can spare the energy of course.For ambitious professionals London is a top three global destination and many of those dream of becoming an entrepreneur in charge of their own destinies. Yet, London’s Tech City could see a startup exodus as commercial rents have soared in recent times. The incoming mayor can exert huge influence to make sure that the city creates the right environment for would-be entrepreneurs realising their dreams. Here are a few examples of areas where the new London mayor’s leadership can make a huge difference and turbo-charge the whole of London as a mecca for entrepreneurship. Attract global talent Talent is the bedrock on which London’s future prosperity stands, yet 35 per cent of CEOs view the skills gap as the single biggest threat to the growth of the tech sector in the next 12 months (Deloitte UK Technology Fast 50). The London talent pool for high quality STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) graduates and professionals, especially women, is shallow. Quotas are not always the answer, but rules are there to be broken. The incoming mayor must work with the Home Office to set up non-EU STEM quotas for Britain (and London) especially from South East Asia and Latin America. Affordable housing and offices What holds London back from an entrepreneurship perspective is the high cost of living and doing business here. The mayor’s office needs to work with local councils and private developers to increase the stock of affordable houses and offices – companies like WeWork, UniPlaces etc are doing very interesting work in this area and should be engaged with. The current trend of constructing mostly empty residential high rises primarily targeted at investors – only ends up pushing young people out of London, which is a huge brain drain and sucks the soul out of the city. Infrastructure The new London mayor should focus on higher broadband speeds. Investing in fibre to replace London’s leaky copper pipes is essential – in the UK approximately two per cent of households are connected by fibre, compared to say 60 per cent in South Korea. In the current economic climate, the billions of pounds of investment needed to achieve this may seem high, but the payback in terms of economic growth is well worth it with some estimates pegging it as high as 20 times gross value added for every £1 invested. A threefold increase (given the existing low base) should be an ambitious, yet achievable target over the next mayoral term.
Continue reading on the next page to see what Boris Johnson’s replacement needs to understand about education, investments and entrepreneurship on the next page.
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