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From AI to open source: Tech leaders' recommendations for the new Labour Government

Leading industry figures set out key priorities for Sir Kier Starmer's new government, including employing Chief AI Officers in Whitehall and more open source in the public sector

The results are in and Sir Keir Starmer is Britain's next Prime Minister.

As Labour forms its first government in fourteen years, all eyes are now on Westminster.

But will Labour be able to deliver for the UK's tech sector and help to nourish its growth and success on the global stage?

The Stack asked industry leaders for their reaction to the election and advice on what the government should prioritise when setting tech policy.

In the wake of high levels of ministerial churn, constancy and delivery were key asks from industry – and a focus on execution. Many were, understandably, keen to bang the drum about their particular niche.

With Labour's prononounced focus on "securonomics", some of the requests may resonate louder than others, like Oana Jinga, co-founder at warehouse automation firm Dexory's call for a supply chain focus.

She noted: “It may not be top of the agenda – especially this early on in Labour’s leadership – but supply chains should matter to the government. Their efficiency and resiliency have a direct impact on the availability and cost of goods, affecting consumers.

"Considering this, we want to see policies that address infrastructure, regulation and innovation in logistics and enhance national competitiveness, economic stability, and sustainability. A strong focus on technological innovation in logistics ensures the sector can meet future demands and challenges effectively.”

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 Cybersecurity is likely to be a critical area of concern for Starmer and his cabinet, who were urged to help plug the skills gap and continue to develop policies which will defend the realm from attack.

"Protecting the UK’s critical infrastructure from cybercrime must continue to be a priority for the next administration..." said Chris Dimitriadis Global Chief Strategy Officer at professional assocation ISACA.

"Reducing the number of cybersecurity vacancies is the first step in protecting UK businesses and consumers," he added.

Spencer Starkey, VP EMEA at SonicWall added: "Governments set cybersecurity standards and policies that the private sector often follows, so inadequate regulations could leave both public and private sectors vulnerable," he warned.

See also: ministers clam up on just how decrepit their IT systems are

Unlocking the economic benefits of AI and supporting industry growth should also be top of mind for Labour, tech leaders told us.

"The new Prime Minister has a unique opportunity to take a positive view of AI and high stakes technologies..." said Rashik Parmar MBE, Chief Executive of BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT.

"By setting high standards for those who direct and develop computing in areas like health, security and other vital public services, the UK can be an example to the world," he added.

The sentiment was echoed by Dr Marc Warner, CEO of Faculty, an AI consultancy.

"Starmer must unashamedly embrace narrow AI tools with specific, predetermined goals, and proven to be both safe and effective," said Warner.

"For too long, governments have accepted managed decline in public services - with worsening outcomes eroding trust in institutions. AI offers an opportunity to arrest that slide," he noted.

Chief AI Officers in all HMG departments?

James Hall, VP and country manager for Snowflake, called for the installation of Chief AI Officers across government departments to "ensure AI underlines the priorities in all the parties’ manifestos" and the establishment of a "foundational data strategy with governance at its core."

"Now we know the Labour party has won the election with a substantial majority, it is crucial the new government places an emphasis on tech investment, particularly around AI," he said.

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There are some serious expectations from the fintech sector as well, which hopes that London can remain at the forefront of digitised financial services.

"This new government will take office at a pivotal time for the crypto industry in the UK," said Keld van Schreven, Co-Founder and Managing Director of KR1, a European digital assets investor.

"In particular, we welcome Labour’s support for a pro-innovation regulatory framework in financial services," he specified.

A new government may be cause for excitement in policy wonk circles, but tech leaders are proceeding with an air of cautious optimism.

"My primary concern would be the speed and efficiency of policy implementation. While the government's initiatives are promising, the actual execution and the bureaucratic process involved can often cause delays," said Riaz Moola, founder and CEO of Edtech company HyperionDev.

"The new Government needs to channel a more immediate focus on removing inefficiencies within UK businesses, which both the private and public sector are being weighed down by," said Rupal Karia, Country Leader UK&I, at Celonis.

Amanda Brock, CEO at OpenUK, focused on the digitisation of the public sector and said: "It is not too late for the UK to break free of the shackles of vendor lock-in which has been allowed to infantilise our public sector."

Brock added that with 96% of software codebases today having open source software dependencies, the public sector must learn how to manage software properly. Only this change will allow the interoperability needed to open up data flows between systems and unlock efficiency.

"Change must not only start now but must be digital. Only a fundamental shift in our digital policies and practices can impact the lives of every individual across the UK," Brock concluded.

See also: What do tech leaders want from a new British government?