Pictured above: HRH, The Earl of Wessex who joined an OxLEP-led virtual visit of Oxfordshire yesterday afternoon.
His Royal Highness The Earl of Wessex yesterday (5 May) met with business leaders, entrepreneurs and apprentices from across Oxfordshire at a special virtual meeting, aimed at highlighting how the county is leading the way in global innovation.
The event – which was hosted and convened by the Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (OxLEP) – saw The Earl discuss with event participants topics as diverse as quantum computing through to how the county has led the global response in creating a COVID-19 vaccine.
At the special online visit, His Royal Highness firstly met some of the leading representatives operating in the fields of an emerging transformative technology, the county’s world-leading life sciences sector, plus a key international figure from the creative industries sector.
The Earl discussed the county’s innovation strengths with Ilana Wisby – CEO of University of Oxford spin-out, Oxford Quantum Circuits, Professor Sarah Gilbert, who heads-up the COVID-19 vaccine programme for the University of Oxford and Jason Kingsley OBE – owner and CEO of the Didcot-based production company Rebellion.
His Royal Highness then spoke with some of the county’s leading apprentices and entrepreneurs, each in their own way inspired by the significant opportunities and businesses who call Oxfordshire ‘home’.
The Earl met with Emilia Reyes Pabon – a technician scientist apprentice at the Clinical BioManufacturing Facility (part of the University of Oxford's Jenner Institute), Melissa Chigubu – an eDrive apprentice at the Abingdon-based GKN Automotive and Atherton Mutombwera – the CEO of Hutano Diagnostics, a disease diagnostic company based at the Oxford Bioescalator.
His Royal Highness was welcomed to Oxfordshire by the Vice Lord Lieutenant for the county, Brian Buchan as well as OxLEP’s chair Jeremy Long and chief executive Nigel Tipple.
The virtual visit comes almost two years after the launch of the Oxfordshire Local Industrial Strategy, an OxLEP-led strategy supported by over 300 leaders from across business, academia and the county’s local authorities.
The strategy sets an ambition for Oxfordshire to be a top-three global innovation ecosystem by 2040 and highlights the integral role emerging, transformative technologies will play, as well as why it’s key to ensure businesses can continue to attract the very best young talent, both within the county and outside of it too.
Jeremy Long said: “We were delighted to welcome The Earl of Wessex to Oxfordshire – albeit virtually – and introduce him to the incredible talent behind the world-class innovation that exists in the county.
“Very few areas of the UK have the breadth and depth of assets, knowledge capability, skills and business capacity which makes Oxfordshire a leading location for investment, as well as having the genuine ability to attract the world’s most talented people.”
“We thank The Earl for his time and the opportunity to showcase to him just some of the extraordinary capabilities and the business drive in Oxfordshire, absolutely key to supporting a strong economic recovery from COVID-19.”
Nigel Tipple added: “Over the past decade, we have secured around £660million-worth of investment for Oxfordshire. This has helped to create positive economic conditions, allowing our business community – and our many entrepreneurs – to thrive and make real innovative impacts across a number of sectors, benefitting not just our region, but the nation as a whole.
“We hope that we were able to demonstrate this to His Royal Highness and – post COVID-19 – we would be delighted to welcome The Earl in-person to Oxfordshire and demonstrate how our businesses will continue to make an impact locally, nationally and indeed internationally.”