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Ironbridge Gorge stands to lead the digital industrial revolution

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The Ironbridge Gorge can lead the world into the new digital industrial revolution just as it did with the first industrial revolution, says one of the top tech minds in the UK.

Tim Luft, a Government technology dealmaker for the Department of International Trade, said he believes that fast-paced advances in technology combined with the innovative and creative mindset of Ironbridge, which is famously the birthplace of the first industrial revolution, can see the Gorge leading a charge for change into the fourth industrial revolution.

“If you go back to Ironbridge during the first industrial revolution, people were innovating and experimenting with new materials and creating new products that they didn’t really know what they would be used for at the time,” said Luft, who is also the founder owner of Telford’s VR Simulation Systems and the digital champion for the Telford Business Forum.

“There was no knowledge of smelting iron so that you could build a bridge or a tower – they were just experimenting. I think we can learn from that innovation here today. If you look at changing technology as a raw material as opposed to what was available in the days of the first industrial revolution, then the ability to actually create new products that don’t actually exist yet is really where there is a crossover.”

A festival is organised by Telford & Wrekin Council at Ironbridge Gorge, to engage, inspire and educate people about the area, not only looking at its history and impact on the world, but looking at what is there now and how the area can affect change in the future. It runs between September 14-29.

“Fifteen of the top 20 jobs in tech don’t exist yet for children when they leave school because they don’t know what they are going to be – technology is moving forward that quick,” said Luft. “If you look at the whole growth of artificial intelligence and technology around augmented reality, virtual reality and simulation then there are massive opportunities to come up with products.”

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