The London Plan for Technology, Cleantech and Life Sciences

Written by the Mayor of London and published on his behalf by the Greater London Authority, the London Plan is a document that spells out the capital's spatial and development strategy. A regional planning document which is specific to London, the current one was first published in February 2004, but has undergone several amendments since then. The current plan was released in the summer of 2011 and covers the period of planning up until 2031, although some minor alterations have already been made to that version of the document in order to make it comply with the National Planning Policy Framework, as laid out by the government. The document covers a wide variety of things that relate to life in the capital, including health and equal opportunities. It is also charged with laying out the strategy to make London a centre of excellence for sustainable development, which is where the elements which deal with clean technology come in. In terms of other technology sectors and life sciences, the plan must deal with them under its strategy to make London internationally competitive and successful city.

How the London Plan Supports the Technology Sector

According to the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, the authorities in the city, "need to harness the capital's technical prowess to help the city to work even better, to support its growth and to help the infrastructure and services be increasingly responsive to business needs." In his statement given at the start of the section of the London Plan which deals with technology - known as the Smart London Plan - he says that London needs top-class researchers and talented entrepreneurs to innovate and provide new approaches to extend the capital's growth. According to Professor David Gann, who is Chairman of the Smart London Board and Vice President of Development and Innovation at Imperial College London, the plan defines a vision for a smarter city and provides a tangible path to integrate opportunities derived from burgeoning digital technologies into the fabric of London's life.

One of the areas where the plan is designed to promote technology is through the digital inclusion of ordinary Londoners. The plan calls for a doubling of the number of technology apprenticeships by the end 2016, for example. In addition, another document is due to be released by the end of 2014 which spells out further measures that will deliver a pan-London digital inclusion plan for all boroughs. According to the plan, the emphasis needs to be on high-level skills, such as coding, rather than entry-level digital inclusion, for instance by simply teaching Londoners how to consume digital media. In addition, the plan calls for co-operation with European partners to maintain common data standards so that the IT infrastructure is compatible with the next generation of communications technology.

How The London Plan Supports The Clean Tech Sector

According to the Jobs and Growth Plan for London, supported by the London Mayor's office, the strategy to promote clean technology needs to be able to, "transform London's economy so that it drives productivity across multiple sectors, altering the way Londoner's conduct business and the way lives are lived." Part of the approach being undertaken is to champion London's existing knowledge base as a prime asset, when it comes to clean technology development. The plan calls for a global promotion of London's, "world class research base" which will, "maximise the opportunities for collaboration" with overseas players. The idea is to attract global research and development investment by utilising the Mayor's power to convene interested parties and thereby accelerate the connection between emerging clean technology companies and investors. In short, the plan is to leave market processes to their own devices but provide a framework whereby investment into start-up firms and their emerging technologies can be made much, much easier.

How the London Plan Supports the Life Sciences Sector

No less than £1.2m of funding is made by the Mayor of London's office into the Life Sciences sector, much of it in combination with some of the capital's world renowned universities. In 2014, Boris Johnson widened the scope of this funding and did so with the inclusion of the university cities of Oxford and Cambridge. The approach is designed to put London, Oxford and Cambridge together on the world stage to give it an unparalleled amount of exposure that few other regions in Europe - or the world - could match. The Mayor announced in April 2014 that a further £2.92m would be invested in MedCity, as the three-city project is known. He said that, together with Oxford and Cambridge, London would form a "golden triangle" of life sciences innovation. "We need to channel our intellectual pre-eminence so that it has a positive impact on London's economy," he added. Kit Malthouse, who is the deputy Mayor for Business and Enterprise, pointed out that it is London's financial might that can really leverage the firms currently operating in the life sciences sector, making new discoveries, "to turn them into world beating companies."