Tech City: Advocates to push for change in the sector

Russ Shaw

Russ Shaw - Credit: Archant

A rapidly growing coalition of tech professionals, politicians and investors is campaigning for the private sector to push for change in Tech City. Tech London Advocates is a private sector-led group committed to both championing the UK’s biggest digital hub but also addressing various issues that businesses in the sector face, such as improving infrastructure, transport and education.

The union was founded in 2013 by Russ Shaw, former VP of Skype and Telefonica, and the driving force behind O2’s sponsorship of the Millennium Dome, sparking its iconic transformation.

In the past two years Tech London Adovcates has grown from 100 to 1300-strong.

Russ said: “I think digital and technology is going to literally transform ever industry sector that is out there today. We talk about having great fintech sector and London is world leader in financial services. London is also a world leader in adtech, fashiontech - we have a legacy as a city and interests around sectors of the market. London will play a key role in many of these tech verticals over time and I think that will be very exciting.”

Russ continued: “At the same time we have to be mindful that we need a good infrastructure to support businesses and make sure we are not creating a digital divide, and bring ppl from all walks of life. “We don’t leave people behind who feel like they aren’t part of the future – I see people from Tech London Advocates starting to talk about this and what can we do to educate younger ppl about the importance of digital technology.”

Russ said there were three elements that needed to be addressed to turn London into a “gigabyte city”: broadband connectivity, key transport links in and out of the city and property.

He said: “We know that rents are going up – yes there are good co-working spaces, incubators and accelerators - but we want to make sure small businesses are not being chased away because rents are going up.

Most Read

So that it’s still affordable we need to consider how we can build affordable housing – these are challenges we have to put spotlight on.”

A Tech City advisor for the government, Russ launched the group after realising that the private sector could help address these issues.

He said: “I saw how the national and local government was looking to promote London tech but thought: where are the leaders across private who can come together to drive this?

“A lot of creativity and innovation sits in the private sector as well influence and funds. We have venture capital and private equity firms in Tech London Advocates. These are important people with the finance to help us get stuff done.”

Tech London Advocates’s biannual summits gather 500 Advocates, including leading policymakers to address these challenges and discuss how to promote Tech City on a global scale and connect with other digital hubs internationally.

The next conference is in April and looks at how to improve infrastructure in the area, with a report of findings to be published.

For more information, visit: