London Tech Week: Capital sets out stall to be world's 'Smartest City'

London tech week

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has promised to make London the world's leading Smart City, pledging funding support for small businesses developing new technology that tackles issues relating to air pollution and climate change. Speaking at the launch of London Tech Week, he called on the global "tech community" to help tackle issues such air pollution, housing and the future of transport.

Khan also reafirmed a commitment to appoint the capital's first chief digital officer – recruitment is under way for the CDO, who 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.

London is already Europe's leading Smart City and will only have to overtake New York to top a world ranking by the IESE Centre for Globalisation & Strategy. Nonetheless, Khan said he 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.

A new £1.6m Clean Tech Incubator fund called Better Futures will help 100 London-based small businesses to deliver low-carbon and clean-tech products to tackle the causes and effects of climate change. The idea is for the Better Futures fund to help create a 'clean-tech cluster' of environmental technology companies in London. Khan has also opened the Plexal development this week, a new 'technology innovation destination' built to support technology start-ups and global corporations on the Here East business site in Stratford. 

"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," Khan said. “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.”

One year after the UK’s vote to leave the EU, the Mayor is continuing to reassure the global tech community that London remains open to business. According to the Mayor's Office, new data from EY shows that London is Europe’s leading city for foreign direct investment into the technology sector, attracting more investment projects than any other European city in each year during the last decade.

Also speaking at the London Tech Week launch was Ford's vice president for Europe, Middle East and Africa, Steven Armstrong, , who announced that Ford will open a dedicated Smart Mobility Innovation Office at Here East focusing on future mobility solutions for Europe.

Here East CEO, Gavin Poole, said: “The success of London’s flourishing tech sector is partly due to the collaboration between entrepreneurs, established businesses, academics and policy makers. As the tech community comes together at Here East for the launch of London Tech Week, we are delighted that Ford is joining our campus as it accelerates its capabilities to develop urban mobility solutions for Europe and that Plexal, Europe’s largest technology innovation destination, has opened its doors.”

London Tech Week is a festival of events running from 12-16th June, expected to attract over 50,000 visitors to hundreds of events hosted across the city.