Boris Johnson Pitches Three App Ideas To London's Wayra Start-Up Academy

Boris Pitches His App Ideas To London's Tech Elite

Everyone has an idea for an App - including Mayor of London Boris Johnson.

(In fact he has three.)

The mayor used the official opening of Telefonica's 'Wayra' start-up academy in London on Friday to pitch his ideas for new businesses to the london tech community.

First, he told the assembled audience of entrepreneurs, reporters and investors - all sat on bean bags, cushions and wooden auditorium seating in the plush Wayra office - about his idea for a new social network.

"You could have an app called PoluSwerve," he said. "Which would be a way of identifying whether there were any roaming politicians in the vicinity so you could stay far away."

Second, he pitched an app designed to fix the financial crisis.

"You could have an app called FixMe," he went on. "Which would enable Barclays bankers and others to work out how to fix prices without leaving incriminating emails."

His third app idea was centred on phone hacking.

"You could have something called YouHack," he mused aloud. "Which would tell you in real time exactly who it is that is listening in to your mobile conversations."

"The mind boggles," he said.

Above: Boris pitches the London tech community

While his ideas are yet to come to fruition, Boris was in luck as he was given a global pass to enter any Wayra academy on demand - just in case he wants to develop his pitches further.

In the meantime he said that his office was making progress when it came to tech.

"We in government see enormous potential in your work," he said.

"You may know we have an app now, it's a TFL thing, it allows you to see when the bus is coming. Or when it's about to go on strike. It will tell you exactly where the pickets are."

Wayra London

Wayra London's Plush Offices

The mayor was at the Wayra academy, just off Tottenham Court Road in London, to inaugurate the space which houses 16 new businesses chosen from a pool of more than 1,000 applicants.

Boris was treated to a tour of some of those apps, including a new dating service named TrueView which aims to connect users based on the places they go and the interests they share. He said he was impressed by the service, but cautioned that users might not want to share their locations at all times. The team explained the app doesn't work in that way - but Boris was insistent that somebody, if not TrueView, would know their location.

"If your phone is on the British Secret Service know where you are," he said. "Believe me."

Boris was also introduced to a team from Slovenia, 2nd Sight, who have developed an app to help the blind navigate their phones and the world at large ("a very liberating thing," said Boris, who seemed genuinely impressed).

He also met the team behind Blue Butterfly, who have developed a system to allow users to connect to WiFi networks by touching their phones on physical stickers in cafes and other locations.

Boris didn't immediately grasp the finer details of NFC (near field communications) but said if the service could eliminate his frustrations with hotel WiFi, he was behind it.

"An Oyster card on a dongle?" he asked. "Is this really getting simpler?"

"I almost understood that, that's fantastic."

And despite later admitting that his "barely understands" many of the app ideas on display, he claimed to be impressed at the range of creativity - and more importantly, what it showed about London and the "protean resilience of the London economy".

He later told executives at Telefonica, the parent company of O2 who sponsored the Wayra academy and its offices, that he would love to host an event named Campus Party in London "if you put mobile on the tube".

Ann Parker, who is the head of operations at Wayra Europe, said that she was glad the "wonderful character that is Boris Johnson" could come for the launch of the academy.

"This is a stamp of approval not just from the businesses, but also government support as well. Digital business in London is hugely important.

"There is a huge groundswell [in London] coming through and that's fantastic, not just for London but also for the UK and Europe, and we want to be part of that. London is opening today and shortly afterward we'll be doing the same in Dublin and Munich so that we can start to develop this as a European community."

HuffPost UK will be featuring each of the start-ups at Wayra over the coming weeks - check back for future updates.


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