Monday 3 June 2019 8:02 am

As a global trading hub, the City is ready to face the challenges of a new digital era

With changes afoot both domestically and when it comes to our relationship with Europe, it is a challenging and frustrating time for many parts of the City.

What we must not lose sight of is that London – and specifically the City – has been at the centre of global trade for centuries, and has fundamental strengths that will stand the test of time.

After all, it is the City which laid the foundations of modern banking and insurance, which devised the first modern international capital markets, and which remains at the leading edge of innovation – from fintech and blockchain to green finance.

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That is something that has been made abundantly clear to me this week during my visit to Tallinn and Helsinki. These two cities share London’s ambitious innovation agenda that not only manifests itself in brilliant business ideas, but also in approaches to digital skills and education.

We met businesses like Bolt and TransferWise, as well as fast-rising tech startups that are disrupting their sectors, like 3DBear and Lyfta Oy. There was much to observe and take back to London, particularly in the way that Tallinn and Helsinki nurture and encourage innovation, from the classroom to the boardroom.

With innovation ingrained in the DNA of Tallinn and Helsinki, it came as no surprise that both cities are home to some of the most exciting technologies and businesses that I have come across in my mayoral term so far.

As well as learning and sharing best practice, I have also been promoting London’s enduring benefits to prospective partners.

And encouragingly, everyone that we met recognised these strengths; the unique combination of time zone, language, legal system, global talent, and financial services ecosystem truly make us a gateway to global capital and advice.

There are real opportunities for firms looking to scale up in London, attracting venture capital and other forms of funding that is so readily available in the City for big ideas.

TransferWise is an exemplar of this – and will no doubt be the blueprint for countless other ambitious businesses around the dynamic region in the future.

This trip has demonstrated the opportunities that the UK offers tech firms to grow to scale.

This in turn offers the opportunity to drive economic growth,

domestic investment, and international trade by embracing emerging tech platforms, investing in fintech, and accelerating leadership in green finance.

We are now well into the fourth industrial revolution, and technology has an increasingly important role in society and business. My Mayoral agenda, “Shaping Tomorrow’s City Today”, recognises that the digital era brings new global challenges.

We must overcome these by investing in our future, while cultivating and connecting digital communities across Europe, ensuring that no one is left behind.

That means bolstering digital skills across society for young and old, as well as forging business links across Europe with likeminded cities.

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.