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Birmingham high-tech jobs revolution to be overseen by former Labour MP David Lock

Birmingham high-tech jobs revolution to be overseen by former Labour MP David Lock

🕔11.Nov 2013

David Lock, a former Labour MP who was involved in the bitter battles over the future of Kidderminster Hospital, is to lead Birmingham’s high-tech jobs revolution.

Professor Lock is the new chairman of Innovation Birmingham with a remit to bring high-value jobs and investment to the city.

He takes on his duties as a planning application for the iCentrum building is being prepared. The building, part of the £35 million Digital Plaza project, will include a software development playground and a technology incubation facility.

Birmingham City Council, which has owned the Innovation Birmingham Campus and Birmingham Science Park Aston since 2008, confirmed Professor Lock’s appointment. He takes over from city council leader Sir Albert Bore.

Professor Lock became MP for Wyre Forest at the 1997 General Election, but lost the seat to health campaigner Dr Richard Taylor, the Independent Kidderminster Hospital and Health Concern candidate, in 2001.

He was a Minister in the Lord Chancellor’s Department, chaired the National Crime Squad and National Criminal Intelligence Service and is chairman of the West Midlands Labour Finance and Industry Group.

He presently leads the Public and Administrative Law group for No5 Chambers across its London, Bristol and Birmingham offices and was named ‘Barrister of the Year’ in 2011 by Birmingham Law Society.

Professor Lock said: “I am honoured to have been selected to work with the board, CEO David Hardman, and the Innovation Birmingham team to drive forward with the development of the organisation and in particular, the iCentrum building and the rest of the Digital Plaza scheme.

“There are also opportunities to deliver more European-funded projects and expand on the on-going success of the Entrepreneurs for the Future Centre, creating new high value jobs for Birmingham.

“I hope to use my background in law, local and national politics, as well as my experience as a non-executive director to add a new dynamic to Innovation Birmingham, which has successfully restructured to enable the Digital Plaza development to be at the stage it is now at, with a planning application currently being prepared.”

The Digital Plaza site is situated off Holt Street/Enterprise Way and A38 Aston Expressway and is a gateway to the Eastside learning and knowledge quarter.

The vacant development plot, which is part of the Innovation Birmingham Campus, will be the first of 26 enterprise zone sites to be developed by the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Zone, allowing future occupiers to benefit from business rates relief.

In advance of construction work starting on the Digital Plaza development, a 2Gbit/s diverse internet transit has been installed across the Innovation Birmingham Campus and the wider 14 acre Birmingham Science Park Aston estate.

Dr David Hardman MBE, CEO of Innovation Birmingham said: “Having a chair whose pedigree combines politics with a resounding career as a barrister is ideal, as we embark on an exciting new era of development activity. I look forward to active engagement with David to continue the progress we have made over recent years.

“Innovation Birmingham is actively working to promote and drive the Smart City agenda and nurture relationships with international stakeholders. This is key to raising the profile of Birmingham as a tech city, which will encourage more tech start-ups to be born here and attract investment.”

The 85th innovative tech start-up has recently enrolled at Innovation Birmingham’s Entrepreneurs for the Future centre. The business incubation programme has been running for four years, and to date the start-ups have secured over £2.5 million of investment during initial funding rounds.

Entrepreneurs for the Future is Innovation Birmingham’s flagship tech business incubation initiative, supported by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). The start-ups that the programme has incubated have created over 150 new employee and director positions since November 2009.

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