The founder and chief executive of the Newcastle-based IT conference, Thinking Digital, has been appointed to a high profile role with Tech North, a regional initiative aimed at accelerating the development of the digital economy.
Herb Kim, a well-known figure in the sector internationally, with years of experience in connecting entrepreneurs and digital leaders, has taken on the position of executive chair to the advisory board.
His experience in regional capitals in the US in particular is seen as pivotal in championing the merits of the UK’s regions and building their growing overseas reputation.
Established in response to the Tech Nation report, which identified how the so-called ‘cluster phenomenon’ is fuelling the growth of the digital economy, Tech North aims to attract talent, entrepreneurs and investment to northern cities including Newcastle, Sunderland, Hull, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester and Sheffield.
It is part of the Tech City UK network overseen by chief executive Gerard Grech, who has also appointed Claire Braithwaite, of the corporate finance advisory firm for social enterprise, Clearly So, as Tech North head.
Mr Kim said: “As a board director of Tech City UK, I’ve been a witness to the fabulous progress that Gerard and the Tech City UK team have achieved over the past year.
“I’m honoured and excited to have the opportunity to support the establishment and success of the Tech North initiative.
“This is a wonderful opportunity to showcase and continue to grow our achievements in digital technology from Newcastle to Sheffield and Liverpool to Hull.
“I look forward to working closely with Claire Braithwaite to make Tech North a great asset for Northern England.”
Following on from Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg’s North Futures Project, Tech North will leverage the unique strengths of regional innovation by identifying and supporting the needs of grassroots entrepreneurs, and driving the connectivity of the digital ecosystem of the region.
Ms Braithwaite will lead the new initiative and will take responsibility for creating a full team, which will be initially be co-located in Manchester and Newcastle.
Other Northern co-locations may be considered as the initiative develops.
Mr Kim will assume his role with immediate effect, while Ms Braitwaite will officially begin on April 27.
“Over 170,000 people are employed in digital businesses in the developing tech clusters of Liverpool, Manchester, Sheffield, Leeds, Hull, Newcastle and Sunderland alone,” she said.
“Tech North will shine a light on digital businesses across this dynamic region of the UK and aims to help in creating an optimum set of conditions for digital businesses to thrive in.
“I’m looking forward to working alongside Gerard’s team and showing to the world the great entrepreneurial talent and digital business expertise the North has to offer.”
Mr Grech said: “Tech Nation shows the strength and depth of clusters across the North of England, as well as highlighting the conditions the ecosystem needs to grow.
“I’m delighted to have strong leadership at the helm.
“Claire’s digital business acumen and Herb’s strategic and international experience will create an effective team.
“Both will contribute to the success of the Northern Powerhouse and the understanding of the needs and opportunities for digital entrepreneurs across the region.”
Mr Clegg said: “I’m delighted to be welcoming Claire and Herb to lead innovative plans to support the digital sector by bringing together tech talent in the North.
“I’m proud and pleased that Northern Futures has brought creative minds, tech experts and entrepreneurs together to help build world-class tech clusters spanning our Northern cities.
“Tech North will help business boom in the North, bringing a stronger economy but also a fairer society when thousands of jobs are created in the North.”