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New Tech Initiative Targets Small Businesses

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Scheme launched as part of London Mayor’s wider Economic Development Strategy.


London mayor Sadiq Khan has published his strategy for making the capital a fairer, more inclusive city, the Economic Development Strategy. As part of that strategy, plans are in place to help small businesses take advantage of London’s technology and artificial intelligence sectors, both described as “flourishing”.

At its core, the Economic Development Strategy seeks to address the inequality in London, a city which, despite being one of the richest in the world, houses some of the UK’s poorest neighbourhoods. The small business tech initiative is looking to take advantage of London’s tech sector and to enable smaller businesses to get up to speed with the kind of artificial intelligence technologies that larger companies are already taking advantage of.

Helping to acknowledge the income inequality issue, the tech initiative will seek to direct small businesses to where they can access new technologies, while also providing a forecasting tool to help businesses better understand the financial benefits that investing in new technologies can provide.

The initiative will take the form of an online resource available on the Growth Hub, the web-based business support resource put together in joint partnership between the mayor and the London Economic Action Partnership. The online resource will provide advice on purchasing new technologies and how to apply them across the business, while the forecasting tool will be useful in justifying the business case for investing in such technologies.

The tech resource will be launched in 2019, and the overall point of both this initiative and the broader Economic Development Strategy is to boost competitiveness and to create a business environment in which all companies can benefit from the technologies that are available, ultimately creating a fairer, more competitive capital.

Sadiq Khan said of building a more inclusive economy: “This also means ensuring our small businesses have access to opportunities that corporates already take advantage of. Our great city is a global centre for innovation, from artificial intelligence to virtual reality and cybersecurity. Many large businesses are already adopting these technologies to aid productivity and competitiveness – and we must ensure that small businesses have the opportunity to access those same benefits.

“London has a burgeoning tech scene, from artificial intelligence to virtual reality and cybersecurity – and through our new tech initiative, we are determined to ensure that small businesses can tap into the benefits that these new technologies offer.”

This new initiative is a further example of how London is investing in technologies for the future.

Earlier in the year, the mayor committed to investing £7m to help address the digital skills gap and to uncover homegrown tech talent via the digital talent programme, providing free digital skills training courses and support for 16- to 24-year-olds. The programme aims to inspire and prepare young Londoners to fill digitally skilled roles and to improve the talent pool for employers.

Also this year, the mayor’s Civic Innovation Challenge awarded eight tech start-ups £15,000 each to develop solutions to some of the capital’s most pressing social and environmental problems.

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