Two executives have been appointed by Tech City UK to lead the Tech North initiative, which was announced by deputy prime minister Nick Clegg last October.

Claire Braithwaite will leave her CFO role at ClearlySo, a corporate finance advisory firm for social enterprise, to become the head of Tech North, while Herb Kim will take on the role of executive chair of the Tech North Advisory Board.

Tech North is going to be headquartered out of Manchester's Northern Quarter ©Flickr/Stacey MacNaught
Tech North is going to be headquartered out of Manchester's Northern Quarter ©Flickr/Stacey MacNaught

Tech North is being set up in a bid to coordinate the existing digital technology expertise of Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield, Liverpool and Newcastle, among others. Clegg said he wants to double the number of jobs in the technology sector across the North of England from approximately 200,000 to more than 400,000. 

Braithwaite will be tasked with leading the initiative and recruiting head positions for marketing, inward investment, digital skills and startup ecosystem.

Meanwhile, Kim, founder and CEO of the Thinking Digital tech conference, “will bring his years of experience as a respected northern business builder to bear on the initiative”.

Tech City UK added that Kim’s experience with boosting regional capitals in the US will be “vital in championing the UK’s regional capitals and helping to build their growing reputation overseas”.

Tech City UK began recruiting for the Tech North team in January, before revealing that the new organisation will be based out of Manchester

Braithwaite currently works in London’s Tech City, while Kim is based in Newcastle. The pair are expected to work across Manchester and Newcastle after Braithwaite recruits the rest of the Tech North team.  

It is unclear how much the government is investing in the Tech North initiative but Tech City UK is funded with close to £2 million a year. 

Many say Tech City UK has shined a light on the UK tech industry but the organisation has also been criticised for failing to deliver anything of any real value to UK tech startups by fast-growing firms like enterprise collaboration service Huddle and room-booking service One Fine Stay. 

The Tech City UK management team includes CEO Gerard Grech, who used to work for Blackberry, and chair Joanna Shields, who has held senior positions at Facebook and Google and is now David Cameron's digital advisor.

“I’m delighted to be welcoming Claire and Herb to lead innovative plans to support the digital sector by bringing together tech talent in the North,” said Clegg. 

Tech North is part of Clegg’s Northern Futures project, which was launched last July. 

Clegg continued: “I’m proud and pleased that Northern Futures has brought creative minds, tech experts and entrepreneurs together to help build world-class tech clusters spanning our Northern cities. Tech North will help business boom in the North, bringing a stronger economy but also a fairer society when thousands of jobs are created in the North.”

Commenting on the global potential of the UK digital economy, prime minister David Cameron, said: “The Tech Nation report demonstrates the great innovation and thriving entrepreneurial spirit that is driving the sector forward across the country. 

“Backing the industries of the future is a key part of our long-term economic plan to support business, create more jobs and build a more resilient economy. The North is growing and by ensuring we foster the right conditions for digital business growth, we can go even further in solidifying the position of the entire UK as a global hub of technology excellence.”