Tech City CEO Joanna Shields to Step Aside for Former BlackBerry Exec

Joanna Shields, the figurehead behind Tech City UK, is to step down from her role as CEO at the start of February.

By Sam Shead
Fri, January 17, 2014

Techworld — Joanna Shields, the figurehead behind Tech City UK, is to step down from her role as CEO at the start of February.

Tech City UK, the three-year-old government-backed organisation tasked with driving the UK tech movement, announced today that former BlackBerry executive Gerard Grech will be her replacement.

Shields, who has also held senior positions at and Google and Facebook in her time, is taking up a seat on the board of the London Stock Exchange in addition to a non-paid role as Tech City UK chairman.

She has completed just a year and three months as CEO and introduced schemes such as the Future Fifty programme and worked with the London Stock Exchange on establishing the new High Growth Segment market. However, the success of some of the initiatives that Shields has been behind is yet to be realised as companies on the Future Fifty programme are still to reap any signifcant benefits and not one firm has listed on the High Growth Segment market.

As chairman, Shields will play a strategic role working with government on policy to support growth and entrepreneurship. She will also focus on building and promoting the UK tech and digital sector globally in her capacity as UK business ambassador for digital industries.

Shields said: "I am delighted to welcome Gerard as our new CEO during this exciting time. He is an East London resident who's had a front row seat in the evolution of web and mobile platforms over the past decade. He brings a strong combination of start-up and corporate development knowledge to the team plus many years experience in developing and marketing digital products and services.

"The government has created a policy landscape that's transformed the UK's start-up scene. Our goal now is to build on these foundations and help growth-stage businesses scale rapidly and generate jobs. I will continue to champion the UK's digital industry as chairman of Tech City UK and in my role as business ambassador."

Grech has over 15 years experience working with app developers and start-ups at the likes of Nokia, Blackberry and Orange. He will take up the position of Tech City UK CEO on 3 February.

He said: "Tech City is a blueprint for what can be achieved when the right people and the right policies work together. London has become a leading centre for digital innovation and entrepreneurship and my role, together with Joanna and the team, will be to help take things to the next level, delivering on key initiatives, introducing more partnerships and further solidifying Tech City in the international tech scene.

"As a Shoreditch resident, I'm especially keen that our initiatives serve the wider local community, keeping the ground fertile for the next wave of digital start-ups. I'm delighted to be joining the team at this exciting time."

The Tech City initiative was created by the prime minister to support East London's emerging tech community, to draw investment to the area and to help the start-ups based there to drive economic growth.

Figures published in the Tech City Third Anniversary Report show the number of technology companies in London increased 76 percent from 2009 - 2012 and that the tech sector in the capital grew by nearly 17 percent in the same period, responsible for 27 percent of London's job growth.

Originally published on news.techworld.com. Click here to read the original story.
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