This week, South West Tech Daily is profiling the four nominees for the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Tech South West Awards, which take place on 25th November.
First up is Rob Bosworth, Deputy Chief Executive Officer at Exeter College.
Rob has been a central figure in developing the Exeter education ecosystem for more than 20 years and has played an integral role in the emergence of the wider South West tech scene. He is the former Chair of the Ted Wragg Trust Board, Director at Exeter City Futures, serves on the Exeter Chamber of Commerce, is the Digital Strategy Lead for Exeter College and is a Director of the South West Institute of Technology. Clearly Rob has his finger on the pulse.
“The South West is absolutely thriving,” he told SWTD. “There’s a new feeling that [adoption of technology] in the South West is here to stay and is now essential. Before Covid there was a bit of dabbling in different things. Now it’s fundamental.
“It’s changing daily. The great thing is, working in the college and working in the education system, but also being a board director at the chamber and a local stakeholder, you get to see all the parts working together.”
“The biggest change [since the start of Covid] is because of the absolute essentiality of tech as opposed to it just being a ‘nice to have’ element. It’s opened the eyes of the government, it’s opened the eyes of investors. It’s a rapid change in terms of investment, interest and willingness to engage.
“If the South West is to thrive, everyone has to play to their strengths. We have to colloborate."
One example of that happening is the formation of the Exeter Data Information Science Collaborative (E-DISC), which brings together leading organisations to develop technical data analytical skills for the future.
Through Rob's vision and determination to succeed, a unique collaboration of the region’s giants of technology came together: the Met Office, Exeter City Futures, Exeter City Council, the University of Exeter, and the Royal Devon & Exeter NHS Foundation Trust. The idea is to develop the new Data Analytics Apprenticeship, which started with an initial group of 6 students from the partner organisations and has grown to 100 Apprentices live on programme in 2021.
Rob said: “Apprenticeships can be technical, they can be higher-level. We wanted to create a post-18, higher level data analytics apprenticeships."
Rob is only 46 and insists that he is “not retiring”, despite being nominated for the lifetime achievement award!
Among his next big projects is a programme that works closely with Microsoft and the supercomputer at the Met Office. “We’re looking at social value and how that will impact the community in terms of fundamental digital skills. It’s an exciting place to be.”