Described by founder Adam Malik as “the Davos of Digital” - in reference to the World Economic Forum’s annual get together for businessmen, politicians, intellectuals and journalists to discuss the most pressing issues facing the world - the event aims to drive growth and opportunity in the capital.
Attendees will include technology giants like Google, Microsoft and IBM, as well as accelerator groups such as the Tech City Investment Organisation (TCIO), StartUp Britain, and well-known industry figures like Professor Nigel Shadbolt, professor of computer science at the University of Southampton.
The event is a great opportunity to put London’s Tech City on the map and boost the national and local economy, ahead of the Olympic Games this summer. However, the Davos comparison is intriguing, given that Bono once described Davos as a meeting of “fat cats in the snow,” and protesters have previously decried the event as a “mix of pomp and platitude”.
Of course, that is not what Malik meant when he gave Digital London the label. However, it serves as a timely reminder that the “fat cats” must not be allowed to drown out the voices of the startups and small businesses - who are the true representatives of digital innovation and entrepreneurship in this country.
The UK government is understandably keen to establish London as a digital leader, and new research conducted by Aurora Research shows that London ranks higher than European rivals Berlin, Paris and Barcelona in terms of digital infrastructure. But the capital still has a long way to go to catch up with the likes of Tokyo, Hong Kong and New York.
As Malik points out: “If London is really to act as the catalyst for future UK growth, it is imperative that we convince the world of our capital’s readiness to deliver for businesses.” This means holding back on “Davos Man” style back patting, and focusing on what Digital London is really about - finding clever technological solutions to the country's problems.
While improving the capital's infrastructure in areas such as energy and transport will go some way to doing this, showing that we value and listen to our small business entrepreneurs will also provide a great incentive for future investment.
Digital London takes place on 13-14 March 2012, at the ExCel Centre, London.
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