The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has launched his Economic Development Strategy, which sets out how he will try to ensure that all Londoners share in the benefits of London’s prosperity as it grows.
It also introduces a package of new initiatives which aim to support entrepreneurs and help small businesses across London to grow.
These include plans for a £100m fund to help small businesses in the capital flourish. Sadiq’s proposed new SME Fund will make loan and equity investments in small businesses. The scheme aims to support budding companies and entrepreneurs in the capital which are looking to raise money to take them to the to the next level.
It also aims to help plug the funding gap which sees some smaller companies find it difficult to line up new investment to help them expand. It is funded by £32m from the European Regional Development Fund, with matchfunding comprising £50m from the European Investment Bank, £7m from the London Waste and Recycling Board and £11m from ‘legacy’ repayments from previous funds.
The Mayor has also challenged tech start-ups and medium-sized businesses to develop innovative solutions that will help address some of the big issues facing London and Londoners – from inequality to air quality and the health challenges of an ageing population. Using funding from the London Economic Action Partnership (LEAP), 15 companies will initially be selected to receive targeted business support with up to three of them receiving £15,000 to further develop their ideas. The Mayor will set out the exact terms of this initiative, known as the Mayor’s Civic Innovation Challenge, next year.
The overarching goal of the Mayor’s Economic Development Strategy is to boost competitiveness and create a business environment that is not only friendly – in terms of helping investment and growth – but also fair, where all companies play by the rules and where all Londoners stand to benefit.
By channelling investment into key areas, equipping Londoners with the skills, education and training they need to participate in the modern economy, and by investing in infrastructure and offering targeted support to certain sectors – such as tech, life-sciences, and the capital’s creative industries – the Mayor believes he can deliver on this vision at the same time as helping London’s businesses.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “London has many economic strengths. Yet, despite this, there are still fundamental challenges with our economy that should trouble us all. While London is one of the richest cities in the world, far too many Londoners are unable to share in the rewards of that success. It’s shameful that almost three in ten Londoners currently live in poverty and that the talent of many Londoners is still going to waste when, with the right support and encouragement, they could be tomorrow’s entrepreneurs and senior business leaders.
“Inequality is not inevitable. And a fairer city can be a more productive and prosperous city. So I am setting out my plans to create a more inclusive economy that works for all Londoners – an economy that enables everyone to reach their full potential, supports entrepreneurs and small businesses and ensures neither opportunity, nor achievement are limited by gender, race, sexuality, religion, disability or background.
“If we continue to ignore the problems with our economy, we risk further embedding inequality, damaging the cohesiveness of our city and, ultimately, our future success. So we must act now and I am as determined as ever to build an economy that delivers for everyone and leaves none of London’s communities behind.”
The strategy will also ensure that groups who are under-represented or who struggle against ingrained inequality in work and business, including women and those from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic backgrounds, are able to enjoy the success of London’s economic prosperity.
The Mayor wants to work with schools, colleges, universities and industry to break down boundaries that are preventing girls and those from BAME communities from studying science, technology, engineering and maths.
Today he reaffirmed his commitment to set up the first-ever Mayor’s London Scientist programme by funding up to 5,000 pupils who are under-represented in the science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) sector to enter their projects for a national CREST Award – the top science award scheme for schoolchildren in the country.
The Strategy also proposes working more closely with BAME communities to ensure people have the digital skills they need for today’s economy, and that they can access finance for entrepreneurial activities.
David Lutton, economic policy director at London First, said: “London is a successful global capital, but there’s much more potential in our city. If we support the next generation of businesses, with the right investment in skills, digital infrastructure and access to financing, we can unlock significant growth that will benefit the whole of the UK.”