The Yorkshire Post says: North can lead the digital industrial revolution

Juergen Maier of Siemens
Juergen Maier of Siemens
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It was in Scarborough, 55 years ago, that the future Prime Minister Harold Wilson warned that if the country was to prosper, a new Britain would have to be forged in what he called the white heat of a scientific revolution.

Today’s clarion call, for a “digital industrial revolution” to be led from the North of England, is in its own way no less seminal.

Of course, the science of which Wilson spoke has moved on, and today it is not heat but the cold and somewhat clinical reality of data and computer code that will fuel this next industrial revival.

But what sets apart today’s speech to business leaders in Sheffield is that it comes not from a politician but from within the industrial community.

Juergen Maier, the chief executive of Siemens UK and an adviser to the Government, says 175,000 new jobs could come this region’s way if his counterparts commit to putting information technology at the heart of what they do.

Whilst this is a wide ranging and even vague proposition, some clues can be found in Siemens’ own operations in this county.

Two months ago, it announced plans for a £200m train factory on a 
67-acre site at Goole, which will have the capacity to employ 1,700 people. It also makes giant offshore wind turbine blades at its vast new plant in Hull.

Professor Maier is not the first person to speak up for Yorkshire – a conference last year was told that the region was sitting on an offshore resource that would make it the “Saudi Arabia of wind” – but he is among the most influential and he appears to have the backing of a powerful consortium of academics and others who are well placed to deliver a generation of workers with the requisite skills.

Leading the next industrial revolution, says the professor, cannot be done from Whitehall; it can only be done in the North.

The future, as it was in 1963, is in our own hands.