Rohan Silva, the policy advisor that convinced prime minister David Cameron to launch the Tech City initiative, believes that London needs a new global tech university if Tech City is to continue growing.
Silva said if he was still at Downing Street then he would call on the prime minister to tackle the “chronic shortage of technical skills” and “take radical action on housing”.
London should tackle the skills shortage by creating a new technical university that focuses on teaching computer science and engineering courses, he said, pointing to the one that is due to open in New York by 2017, following a campaign from New York mayor Michael Bloomberg.
“We need to follow suit, and boost London’s technology economy by bringing a new global university to Tech City,” wrote Silva.
“Second, we must take radical action on housing. If we don’t, the next generation of innovators will be priced out of the capital, fatally undermining growth. This means reforming our planning system to allow high-density rented accommodation, which would unleash a torrent of private investment and deliver hundreds of thousands of affordable homes.”
A number of universities in London, including renowned institutions like Imperial and UCL, already produce computer science and engineering graduates but technology companies often say they struggle to find enough of the right talent.
The government set up the Tech City Investment Organisation (now Tech City UK) to support the Tech City initiative when it was first announced in 2010.
Since 2010, the number of tech companies based in East London has grown from 250 to more than 5,000, including the likes of Google, Amazon, Intel and Airbnb.