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People asked to play their part in shaping the region's digital futurePeople and businesses in Leeds City Region are being asked to help shape the future growth of digital technologies in the region as part of a consultation by the West Yorkshire Combined Authority and Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP).
Our region is developing a global reputation for the strengths of its digital technology and data sectors, with digitally-focused companies such as SkyBet, Perform Group and ReedSmith Global Solutions all recently locating or expanding their presence in the region. Meanwhile, jobs growth in the City Region is second only to London and the South East with 41,000 digital roles created in the past year alone across all sectors.
The Combined Authority and LEP, in partnership with local councils and industry leaders, are developing a strategy to ensure this growth not only plays a key role in boosting the region's economy but also has social and environmental benefits for the people of the region.
Entitled Lives Transformed by Digital Tech, the emerging Combined Authority and LEP strategy sets out five key outcomes for the region as a result of the development of digital technologies:
- enabling everyone in the region to develop digital skills to access jobs and key services
- improving business growth and productivity by encouraging every business, regardless of sector, to embrace the opportunities of digital technologies developing world-class digital infrastructure to boost the region's global competitiveness making the region the best place in the UK to start or grow a digital technology business ensuring digital technologies provide “tech for good” – in other words, social as well as economic benefits.
Kersten England, Chief Executive of Bradford Council and lead Chief Executive for Leeds City Region on Digital, said: "Our region is full of digital pioneers and tech innovators, which is earning us a reputation as the digital capital of the North. In the fast-growing fields of data storage, data analytics and cyber security especially, our region is world-leading.
"The opportunities of this growth in digital technologies is hugely exciting, but as a region we need to do more to harness those opportunities to maximise economic prosperity and quality of life for the people of the region. To do that we need to hear from people, to understand what impact digital technologies are already having on their lives and what they feel about the future of our increasingly digital region. I really hope that people across the region join in with this consultation online and on social media, and that it captures their imagination about the enormous possibilities digital technologies offer us."
People can take part in an online survey and discussion forums on topics such as how they rate their digital skills, what digital innovations would benefit their lives, or how far their business has embraced digital technologies. They are also being asked to nominate their "everyday digital hero" – someone who has used digital technologies to transform their life or business in positive ways.
The consultation is being supported by leading figures from the regional's digital technology sector.
Professor Adam Beaumont, LEP Board member, CEO of Leeds-based telecommunications operator aql and member of the UK 5G Advisory Board, added: “Developing a world-class digital and data infrastructure is a key piece of the challenge to create a stronger North that can boost national productivity and competitiveness. In Leeds City Region, we’re already on a well-established journey to achieve this. Critical pieces of the UK’s internet infrastructure are located here in the region, and through initiatives such as our positioning to become a 5G pilot location, this platform for growth will become stronger.
“Our biggest challenge is not just to build the infrastructure, but the ecosystem in a layered approach on top of these foundations, so as to include and benefit all. I’m looking forward to hearing what our communities have to say and to build new strategic partnerships to further catalyse a connected North radiating out from our region.”
Rashik Parmar, IBM Distinguished Engineer and Member of the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) Board, said: "I've worked with cities around the world helping them to make the most of digital technologies to address key social and environmental issues. Given our region's fantastic digital strengths it's only right that we're taking seriously the opportunities that growth in technology presents.
"Whether it's creating new skilled jobs for residents, helping businesses become more competitive, developing innovative new approaches to providing healthcare, or smart-ticketing and traffic management systems to help people to travel around the region more easily – digital can change the world we know it for the better. By taking part in this consultation, the people of the region can help us understand what our priorities should be, so that we invest in the right areas to develop a digital economy that works for everyone."
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