BUSINESS leaders from across the North East welcomed His Royal Highness The Duke of York today on a visit to the region.
Komatsu UK was proud to host The Duke of York - a champion for UK business - at its Birtley plant today (Tuesday), following a roundtable discussion with business leaders on the importance of collaboration between tech SMEs and corporates.
At the Roundtable, organised by Sunderland Software City, 11 businesses from the North East discussed creating new commercial opportunities for regional SMEs, through partnerships with larger enterprises.
Greeted at Komatsu UK by Managing Director, Paul Blanchard, Komatsu Europe Managing Director and Chief Executive, Mas Morishita, and Peter Howe, Komatsu UK Executive Chairman, His Royal Highness was provided with a showcase of the state of the art Intelligent Machine Control (iMC) machines, which deploy satellite navigation to enable more precise digging, improved efficiency, and increased safety.
The Duke was also introduced to the latest Komatsu innovation, Smart Construction, which allows customers to visualise and plan a complete jobsite through data gathered from the machines and other Internet of Things (IoT) technology.
His Royal Highness also spoke with around 20 students from three schools - Whickham High, Cardinal Hume and Heworth Grange Secondary – each working on projects with Komatsu UK to visualise the future of construction.
The activity was led by three of Komatsu’s 22 STEM Ambassadors - Kathryn Mullins, Jane Hodgson and James Nash - who work with local schools to promote the core subjects of science, mathematics, engineering and technology and showcase the potential which a career in engineering can offer
Paul Blanchard said: “It is such an honour to welcome His Royal Highness to Komatsu UK and showcase some of the incredible machines that have been designed, developed and manufactured here, in the North East.
“His Royal Highness The Duke of York is a respected ambassador for UK companies and a fantastic advocate for British innovation on a global stage. Hopefully, The Duke was impressed with what he saw during his visit and can carry the message that North East industry continues to thrive and set a high bar for innovation.”
Komatsu Europe’s Masatoshi Morishita San, said: “Komatsu is a Japanese company, but very much part of the fabric of North East industry. We undoubtedly found a happy and productive home when the company invested here in the North East.
“So, 32 years ago, our Birtley factory was officially opened by HRH The Prince of Wales and more than three decades later we are incredibly honoured to welcome his brother, HRH The Duke is York to the plant. I hope he found the visit enjoyable and enlightening…and we would welcome him back any time.”
Martin Stobbs, head of design faculty and STEM co-ordinator at Cardinal Hume Catholic School, Gateshead, said: “The students have learned a lot today about the technology utilised across the construction and manufacturing industries. They enjoyed meeting The Duke of York and were a little nervous about it, but were really put at ease with how down to earth he is and the questions he asked about their project.”
David Dunn, CEO of Sunderland Software City, said: “The Duke has a long history of supporting UK start-ups, especially through the Pitch@Palace initiative.
“We were pleased to be able to bring together representatives of the North East tech sector, to showcase the innovation that is taking place here and to discuss the potential growth opportunities that collaboration between SMEs and Corporates can create for regional businesses.”