Prince Andrew visits Birtley factory

A Sunderland Software City scheme to bring North East businesses together has been given the royal seal of approval.

Wednesday, 17th July 2019, 8:27 am
Updated Wednesday, 17th July 2019, 3:38 pm
The Duke meets pupils from Cardinal Hume School

Prince Andrew, the Duke of York, visited Komatsu’s Birtley plant yesterday, Tuesday, July 16, as it hosted a meeting on the importance of collaboration between large and small tech firms.

The discussion, organised by Sunderland Software City, saw 11 businesses from the North East discuss new commercial opportunities for regional SMEs, through partnerships with larger enterprises.

During his visit, the Duke was given a demonstration of the state of Komatsu’s Intelligent Machine Control (iMC) machines, which deploy satellite navigation to enable more precise digging, improved efficiency, and increased safety.

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Komatsu's Richard Clement with the Duke

He 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 and spoke with around 20 students from three schools working on projects with Komatsu.

Komatsu UK Managing Director 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: “Thirty-two 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.”

A demonstration of an IMC machine

Sunderland Software City CEO David Dunn said: “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.”

Paul Blanchard welcomes the Duke
The Duke is greeted by Chris Grant, CEO of app development company Throneware