Why London Can Rival Silicon Valley
London has the potential to rival Silicon Valley says Kam Balayev, the Renew Party candidate for Mayor of London. Kam believes there are opportunities to drive social and economic growth in the city by accelerating London's digital economy and championing the fintech sector. He outlines his thoughts here:
“Digital technology is now second nature,” said Kam. “From people in older age groups embracing Zoom to the ubiquity of smartphones, content streaming, websites and apps, digital tech is deeply embedded into our daily lives. The coronavirus pandemic has speeded up this process.
“This is particularly obvious in the health and education sectors. Online consultations have helped keep GP surgeries safe and ensured access to treatment for vulnerable people. Home learning for school children and university students has gone from being a marginal practice to completely commonplace. The potential for these two vital sectors to embrace digital solutions is huge, and London's expanding tech sector can help facilitate this shift further.
“We have the opportunity to use the knowledge and expertise of the tech sector to improve the lives of Londoners in other ways too. A key component in any city offer to residents or new investors is safety. Rising crime, particularly violent crime, is a huge concern for Londoners. In fact, it's the issue of most concern to residents after healthcare. By using the latest digital technologies, divisive stop and search techniques can be replaced, while still ensuring that knives are taken off our streets. What works in London can then be exported to other UK cities and across the world.
“London is at the forefront of the UK's digital economy. For example, it has played a pioneering role in cyber-law. And the English language is a key advantage — overwhelmingly the language of choice for global tech companies. The city also contains huge numbers of highly skilled and ambitious bilingual people. London has the potential to become a global hub where ambitious tech entrepreneurs want to be based. But the competition from other cities is fierce.
“However, I believe there's a gap in the market. Silicon Valley is a place for ambitious start-ups, but thanks to tech giants like Google and Facebook, the market has become more insular. It can be difficult for start-ups to find a foothold, as small and medium-sized businesses are priced out. That's where London comes in: a new 'silicon centre' that incubates the tech giants of the future. Innovative, exciting start-ups, growing businesses and emerging giants could flock to the city if it creates an attractive environment, with the right infrastructure in place to support them.
“But, in order to seize this opportunity and build a really exciting and prosperous future for London, we need an electoral system that works. Participatory budgets, e-petitions and citizen assemblies would all hand real power to citizens.
“We are at the threshold of being able to create something truly amazing for London and Londoners and that is why I have put myself forward as a candidate to become the next Mayor of London. We need the political reform that Renew is working to achieve across the country and we need to listen to the people and deliver what matters to them. I am committed to delivering on my promises and building an exciting future for this incredible city.”