National conference told Bradford is at forefront of digital technology projects

The Saltaire headquarters of Pace, one of the companies in the district employing people in the digital sector

The Saltaire headquarters of Pace, one of the companies in the district employing people in the digital sector

First published in News

BRADFORD hopes to use digital technology to go global, according to the Council's chief executive.

Speaking at the NextGen Intelligent Cities Conference and Expo, held today at Bradford City's Valley Parade ground, Tony Reeves said he believes the city is at the forefront of digital technology projects.

These include a £12 million scheme for the city that was given Government backing earlier this month after the University of Bradford won £3.8m from the Department of Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) to set up a University Enterprise Zone in digital health innovations after making a successful bid.

Two new centres will be open in the city over the next three years to form a digital health zone expected to create 2,000 jobs over the next decade.

A new digital exchange will replace Bradford Council's existing Design Exchange in Little Germany.

This will create a hub for small and new companies who focus on information and communications technology. It is scheduled to open early next year.

A new £7m health and well-being centre will also be built on the University of Bradford campus.

The day-long national conference aimed to highlight how local, regional and national businesses can boost the economy by exploiting advanced digital infrastructures. It attracted more than 400 delegates and exhibitors from firms including Virgin Media and Bradford Chamber of Commerce.

The event showed Bradford's forward-thinking view and ongoing work as it strives to become a truly intelligent community after being awarded Super Connected City status by the Government in 2012.

Bradford's digital sector is a key component to its 'Producer City' economy, as 1,100 firms, including Saltaire-based Pace, employ more than 8,000 people.

It is expected that many other cities will also learn from Bradford's long-term plans in areas such as broadband access and open data.

Other schemes Bradford Council are using include its mobile phone app and technology to predict flood risks in the Bradford district.

Speaking at the conference, Mr Reeves said: "Digital technologies can be used to transform public services but it requires organisational and cultural change.

"Things have changed in Bradford massively over the last 100 years. The challenge is to promote a truly competitive city. We have made a good start on that journey.

"Bradford really gets the intelligent cities concept. It has a good business economy. It wants to run globally and is a diverse city.

"Technology is hugely important to how we run our lives. But the world is still about people and we must be mindful that technology can't do everything for us. Human contact is important.

"The digital health hub will deliver lots and lots of technology changes. The 2,000 jobs are just the start. We need to become a really productive city over the next 20 years."

Other speakers included Professor Brian Cantor, vice-chancellor at the University of Bradford and John Duncan, business development officer at Super Connected Cities at Leeds City Council.

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