A young entrepreneur who led a successful campaign to promote the North’s creative and digital industries has taken the helm of a major project to drive the growth of digital industry in the Tees Valley.
Rob Earnshaw has been appointed Director of DigitalCity and has placed improving people’s lives through digital technology as one of the key priorities of the project.
The 29-year-old, who founded Creative North, also wants to use DigitalCity as a focus for promoting women in technology and to drive economic growth through disruptive technology.
DigitalCity is led by Teesside University and is acknowledged as a major catalyst for economic regeneration throughout the Tees Valley.
The project has already helped to create hundreds of new companies and jobs as well as working with existing businesses to improve their digital skills.
It has helped bring millions of pounds per year into the local economy and helped create the North’s only digital hotspot as ranked by the National Institute of Economic and Social Research.
Rob, who was listed in the Guardian/Observer Future 500 Rising Stars, said: “The digital industries are the fastest growing sector in the UK economy, and the North East is the fastest growing region in the UK.
“Until recently the UK was the fast growing economy in the developed world and since the industrial revolution our region has not been able to boast this. We are right in the heart of all that at DigitalCity so it’s an extremely exciting time to be coming here.”
Rob’s main priorities at DigitalCity will be:
• Bringing disruptive technology into Industry 4.0 (the digitisation of the manufacturing sector) and healthcare to help create and retain jobs in the Tees Valley.
• Working to empower people through the digital high-street and using it to improve the quality of people’s lives.
• Leading the way in digital inclusion, particularly women in technology.
After leaving Queen Elizabeth School in Hexham, Northumberland, Rob set up his own talent agency which helped place actors in major films and television productions, including Steven Spielberg’s Warhorse.
In 2015, he founded Creative North, a campaign to make the North’s creative and digital sectors equal to London.
Rob also helped set up the National Youth Film Academy which showcases the talents of young actors and film makers from across the UK.
He works with several regional and governmental organisations including the North-East Local Enterprise Partnership and advisory boards for the Department of Culture Media, and Sport and Department for Communities and Local Government.
Teesside University’s Pro Vice-Chancellor (Enterprise and Business Engagement) Professor Jane Turner, said: “We are delighted to welcome Rob to DigitalCity.
“As well as a wealth of experience across the digital and creative sectors, he brings an infectious enthusiasm, ambition and focus.
“I am sure he will be a great success in keeping the Tees Valley at the forefront of the digital agenda.”