Monday 9 March 2020 6:29 am

If cities like London and Cardiff collaborate, the whole UK will prosper

William Russell is Lord Mayor of London.

Last week, digital bank Starling announced the creation of 400 new jobs in Cardiff. To anyone familiar with the thriving city, it should come as no surprise.

The Welsh capital has cultivated an innovative digital and tech centre with particular specialities around life sciences and software technology, as well as fast-growing adjacent industries such as cyber security. Wales now hosts the fastest growing digital economy outside of London.

And that’s why I’m in Cardiff today, the final stop in our tour of the nation’s key financial and professional services hubs as part of the City Corporation’s UK Partnerships Strategy. Our strategy recognises the crucial role that these financial services hubs play in driving prosperity nationwide. Wales and its 136,000-strong sector workforce is a big piece of that puzzle.

As a partner city in the strategy, we want to strengthen Cardiff’s economy even further by increasing inward investment locally, and building awareness of how London can act as a springboard for Welsh firms to export their products and services globally.

My message to these innovative firms with international ambitions is clear: join me. I’ll be visiting over 20 countries throughout my term to help open the door to investment and global opportunities for the whole of the UK.

In fact, we’ve already seen great success from our work with Welsh firms. In 2018, software company Delio joined my predecessor’s delegation to Australia and then subsequently set up operations in Sydney.

The following year, artificial intelligence firm Amplyfi joined our delegation in China, taking advantage of new opportunities around the globe. And this year, we’re hoping to complete our hat-trick of successes.

One trip that might be of interest to Welsh fintechs is our upcoming visit to the US. A key message from firms while we’ve been travelling around the UK has been that access to funding is a problem. In response to this, we launched our US Venture Capital campaign — connecting American funders with emerging fintechs up and down the country. 

But we’re not only here to help, we’re also here to collaborate and learn. Cardiff has firmly established itself as one of the foremost UK innovation hubs with its booming startup sector. With such credentials, I want to hear more from those at the heart of the city’s success. And understand the barriers that they might face.

I’ll be meeting with Wealthify, Triodos Bank, and Development Bank of Wales to name a few. And I’ll also be banging the drum for the industry when I meet with the secretary of state for Wales, the Welsh government minister for international relations and the Welsh fintech envoy.

In all of my meetings, I will push that it is collaboration — not competition — which will ensure our future prosperity. Working together, city to city, is all the more important now that we have left the European Union. After all, the success of Cardiff — or indeed other hubs across the country — benefits London and vice versa.

That’s why we are here today. It’s why the City Corporation works with other UK centres, and why we are always looking to connect regional and national businesses with international opportunities — using London’s strengths as a global gateway to the benefit of the wider UK.

Main image credit: Getty

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