Earlier this year, the City of London began the process of building a Community Economic Road Map, and through discussions with Londoners, they’ve identified five key themes they may develop as part of the 2015-2019 strategic plan. They include positioning London as “a center of excellence for medical innovations” and “an entrepreneurial city.” I fully support both aspirations and have spent some time pondering them myself.
Realizing those goals will take a concerted effort on many fronts, but brands like that aren’t built primarily through billboards, press releases, and economic development visits. They’re built by putting Londoners, the people doing things worth talking about, on the centre stage.
From figure skating championships to municipal government conferences to music awards, London has become excellent at bringing people to the city. We certainly ought to host some medical innovation and entrepreneurial gatherings that will bring the world to London to see those communities.
In pursuit of positioning London as a center for medical innovation and entrepreneurship, though, I’m proposing we introduce a program to create as many opportunities as possible for Londoners who represent that spirit to spread the news.
I’d start by opening up a fund to help Londoners attend major medtech and entrepreneurship events around the globe. Rather than just sending economic development agents to talk about great things in London, I’d also put some money where our mouths have been to help Londoners tell the world themselves about the great things they’re doing, and how great it is to be doing them here.
Then I’d dedicate resources to helping people identify, apply for, and take advantage of speaking opportunities. Imagine the impact if every major medtech symposium and meaningful entrepreneurship conference in the next four years featured a Londoner on the stage.
In short, I’d make sure there is a conspicuously disproportionate number of Londoners at every major medical innovation and entrepreneurship event for the next four years.
I’d go a step further and help London’s medical innovators and entrepreneurs find support, office space, and networks in other cities, especially where they offer things we don’t yet provide here. I’d run a bus trip to the Women in Tech meetup that happens in Waterloo every month. I’d keep a list of great rental agents to work with in Toronto. I’d get a City of London membership at the coolest shared spaces for medtech and entrepreneurship in New York City, Boston, and San Francisco, and make them available to Londoners who want to work in them for a while.
I’d increase London’s online presence, too. Make sure Londoners are part of virtual conferences, which can also be expensive, and help create a few of our own useful and widely-available online industry tools and events. I’d support Londoners in getting published in trade journals and on popular websites, and help insure our brightest minds have great websites that adequately convey their excellence.
To position London as a city of choice, I’d make sure you wouldn’t be able to shake a stick in those industries without hitting a Londoner. While statistics about job creation and histories of local innovation are great information to have, nothing but a highly visible and vocal community of people doing the kind of work we want to be known for can attest to the fact that London is a great place to do it.