Chancellor George Osborne has appointed tech venture capitalist Eileen Burbidge to the newly-formed post of ‘special envoy for fintech’.
The announcement was one of several tech-related updates in the government’s ‘Productivity Plan’, published today, on issues like the sharing economy, skills and better use of technology in Whitehall.
The chancellor's budget earlier this week was criticised by figures in the tech sector for a lack of focus on the industry.
Burbidge was one of 90 signatories to an open letter from tech entrepreneurs to the Guardian supporting the Conservative party before the general election in May. She is currently a partner at Passion Capital, an early-stage VC firm based in London.
Her appointment is part of the government’s aim to make the UK ‘the leading fintech centre in the world’ by 2020. The government also unveiled plans to launch an international ‘fintech benchmarking exercise’ this autumn.
Regarding broadband connectivity, the government reiterated its target for superfast broadband of 24 Mbps to be available in 95 percent of UK premises by 2017. It said it would help to deliver 4G and ‘ultrafast’ broadband of 100 Mbps and reform planning rules for taller mobile masts.
However it admitted that there are still too many businesses and homes “hampered by slow connections” which means they “cannot play their full part in the digital economy”.
Osborne promised to set up an ‘emerging industry action group’ to identify barriers to the emerging sharing economy sector, which HM Treasury estimates could be worth up to £9 billion a year by 2025.
The government trailed plans to publish a ‘Digital Transformation Plan’, also in the autumn, which will set out the actions it will take to support the adoption of digital technologies across the UK economy.
It will also explain how government will help tackle barriers to new businesses entering and creating new markets, HM Treasury said.
Regarding the use of tech in Whitehall, the government is set to set up new ‘Single Departmental Plans’ which will identify priorities for each department, including a specific requirement to increase the use of digital technology and data sharing across government.
On the issue of tech skills, the plan said it would give local areas the power to invite colleges to become specialist ‘Institutes of Technology’, however it did not explain what this means in practice or provide a deadline.
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