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David Whitehouse InLIFE
David Whitehouse, CEO of InLIFE at the launch of the Staffordshire Deal.

Partnership launched to boost digital innovation in communities and businesses

A partnership which will explore and deliver digital innovation in Staffordshire to improve people’s lives and boost business productivity has been officially launched.

Staffordshire County Council and Staffordshire University will be working together to create a range of opportunities to support a thriving local economy, increase skills and improve health and wellbeing by making the most of the latest digital technology.

The Staffordshire Deal, which was launched in Stafford today, aims to raise aspirations of students, communities and businesses.

The university is celebrating over 50 years of computing excellence and is a leader in digital technology. It is aiming to create thousands of apprenticeships over the next decade, embedding digital skills to support the needs of local business. Schools are also set to benefit from the university’s Microsoft Digital Skills programme, which aims to improve learning and knowledge of students and teachers as well as creating digital apprenticeships.

In addition, digital innovation events will be delivered in Stafford as part of extending the university’s presence across the county – supporting businesses by driving innovation and improving productivity.

Over the next five years the Staffordshire Deal sets out to:
• Create 900 digitally enable apprentices
• Produce 3,000 digitally enabled graduates
• Ensure 100 businesses are engaged in digital innovation
• Retain 50 % more digitally skilled graduates in the local area

David Whitehouse is chief executive and founder of digital marketing agency InLIFE, based in Burntwood. He is a computer science graduate from Staffordshire University and helped launch the Deal at an event in Stafford on Friday.

David, who attended Chase Terrace High School and Stafford College, began his career in IT support and then became a web designer for Phones4U. He later  worked in web design at Staffordshire University.

David said:

I eventually followed my ambitions and set up my own business, a digital marketing agency, in 2011. I started on my own but was determined to help local students, particularly after the support I had received as a student myself.

My first employee was from Stafford College and is now a partner in the business. I later took on a work placement from Staffordshire University who became a full time employee, before taking on a third person who had also worked with us as a university placement.

It has been great to work with newly graduated local students as they bring fresh knowledge and enthusiasm to the business. Now after seven-and-a-half years and with six members of staff, the business has grown and we have a range of customers in the UK and internationally.

It is now 15 years since I graduated it has been amazing to see the speed of change in the digital arena. It is brilliant to see this deal embracing this fast-paced digital environment. It will be exciting to see what the next 15 years holds.”

Staffordshire County Council leader Philip Atkins said:

These are exciting times and we are working continually with a range of partners to ensure we are a more prosperous county where people are better skilled and have better paid jobs.

Successful partnerships are vital to this delivery and so we’re pleased to mark our close working relationship with Staffordshire University this week. It is at the forefront of the digital age and this partnership will ensure that county residents and businesses fully benefit from its expertise and leadership.

Modern technology is helping to boost efficiency and transform how we work for the benefit of our residents.  Our partnership means that we can explore cutting edge technology and to think digital first wherever possible. Digital innovation will improve lives and productivity, leading to a healthier, happier and more prosperous county.

We are fortunate to have this type of expertise here and look forward to building on this partnership to make this county a global digital leader.”

Professor Ieuan Ellis, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Partnerships and Region) said

Staffordshire University has an outstanding heritage in technology, and is at the forefront in preparing graduates and supporting businesses to embrace the transformational opportunities of digital technologies. We are leading the country for our courses in computer game design and Esports.

As a connected university that is committed to improving people’s lives across the region, and beyond, it is vital that we use our expertise to bring new opportunities and a higher quality of life to people across Staffordshire.

Our partnership with Staffordshire County Council, who are recognised as a leading local authority, will bring real benefits to local people and businesses across the region. It will see more joined-up support and digital technologies become a fundamental part of citizen’s lives. Staffordshire sits on the cusp of becoming a truly digital county and we are proud to be playing a key role to realise this opportunity.”