A former North-East MP, who has served as Government minister and Chairman of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy select committee, has joined the board of DigitalCity.
Iain Wright, Chief Executive of the North East Process Industry Cluster (Nepic) and former MP for Hartlepool, hopes to use his experience and contacts to help improve the utilisation of digital technology by businesses in traditional sectors.
This ambition mirrors the recommendations in the recently published Made Smarter Review carried out for the Government by Professor Juergen Maier, the chief executive of Siemens UK, which sets out how UK manufacturing can be transformed through the adoption of industrial digital technology.
As well as chairing the select committee, during his 13 years as an MP, Iain held a number of senior positions including Minister for Housing and Planning, Minister for Schools and Apprenticeships and shadow Minister for Industry.
DigitalCity is based at Teesside University and works alongside the five Tees Valley authorities to connect businesses with the knowledge, skills and expertise they need to thrive in a digital future.
Iain hopes his experiences as a politician and his links with the process industry through his work with Nepic will provide a natural synergy with the aims and ambitions of DigitalCity.
He said: “When I was invited to join the board I jumped at the chance.
“I really believe DigitalCity is one of the key elements of economic growth in the region and will help raise employment levels and improve living standards in the region.
“Some of the innovative start-ups that DigitalCity is supporting are doing fantastic work and the start-up communities in places like Boho are comparable with areas like Shoreditch in London.
“Equally important is the work that DigitalCity is doing to help traditional industries embrace digital and new technology in order to become more efficient and competitive.”
He added: “Using my connections I will be shouting about what this area has to offer.
“I want any tech entrepreneur to be aware of what’s going on here and realise they don’t have to move to London, they can be just as successful in Middlesbrough, Stockton, Darlington, Hartlepool or Redcar.”
Laura Woods, Director of The Forge, Teesside University’s Business Hub, said: “Iain is a passionate advocate for the region and brings with him a wealth of contacts and experience.
“We are delighted to welcome him to DigitalCity and are looking forward to working with him as we continue to create a vibrant ecosystem for tech businesses in the Tees Valley.”