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As London’s Mayoral Elections approach, we sat down with Here East CEO Gavin Poole to get his take on how we can strengthen London’s innovation landscape and what the city’s leadership should look to prioritise.

From future-proofing London’s tech sector to fueling greater collaboration between business, academia and government, read below to discover Gavin’s hopes for London and its world-leading technology and startup ecosystems.

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What do you think the incoming mayor needs to do to future-proof London’s tech sector?

Gavin: London is a world-leading tech hub – Europe’s largest in fact – making it one of the greatest destinations in the world for tech businesses and startups. The city’s mayor should be a visible and vocal advocate of the incredible work going on here; championing the businesses, organisations and institutions that drive this city’s impact on the global stage.

Focused on London’s future as a world leader in innovation, the incoming mayor should look at ways to leverage emerging technologies to drive growth, support spin-out companies, bring in high-value entrepreneurs for IP generation, and harness the power of data generation to drive efficiency.

In addition to supporting London’s technology sector, this advocacy should take shape as proactive support for all industries across our capital. The mayor should promote London overseas as we see many other major city mayors doing, driving greater investment into its thriving startup ecosystem.

They should also amplify the incredible work of major organisations like London & Partners and Tech London Advocates (TLA), as well as raise the profile of London’s world-class educational institutions.


What must they do to ensure the city remains a global innovation leader?

Gavin: As the UK comes out of a recession, it’s critical for any mayor to work to ensure London retains its crown in driving growth for capital. In identifying where to stimulate this growth through business improvement districts, we can connect the dots between industry, academia and government to better fuel job creation and attract international investment.

Another important move will be to balance regulation with innovation. As I explained in a recent piece penned for Computer Weekly, regulation is often perceived as a dampener on progress, when in fact, it can be harnessed to drive new levels of responsible innovation. The UK must finalise regulatory frameworks that support, rather than stifle growth if we are to cement our role as a world leader in AI and leverage the technology as a force for good.

How can they fuel greater collaboration between business, academia and government?

Any mayor would do well to look at the success of the Olympic Park, Here East and Plexal when mapping out a plan to fuel collaboration between business, academia and government.

At Here East, we have a uniquely transformative model. We turned the London 2012 Olympic Games’ press and broadcast centre into a community of over 6,500 innovators, working, studying and collaborating on our campus. Here East is a first-in-class example of creating one of the most successful post-Olympic regeneration projects in the world.

Within our ecosystem, our innovation centre, Plexal, is focused on driving collaboration between entrepreneurs, industry and government; earning a reputation as a leader in running government innovation programmes. We also have SHIFT doing incredible work helping solve urban challenges by forging better connections between government, local communities, and the worlds of academia, business, creativity, science and technology.

This is just a snapshot of the many pioneering organisations which sit within East London’s thriving ecosystem – a model which the incoming mayor can look to replicate across the capital to fuel collaboration and growth on a larger scale.

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What do you hope the future holds for London?

Gavin: London is without a doubt the greatest city in the world, and we will continue to remain so through our strong history of entrepreneurial spirit, creativity and access to capital and talent.

Looking ahead, what we want to see from London’s leadership going forward is a focus on accelerating growth from a very strong starting point; ensuring London remains number one.

I look forward to seeing how the incoming mayor continues this.

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