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Tech City UK boss legs it, dumps project in lap of BlackBerry exec

Why be a CEO when there's a non-exec directorship up for grabs elsewhere?

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Joanna Shields has jacked in her £115,000 job as CEO of Tech City UK to join the London Stock Exchange Group.

She will be replaced by Gerard Grech, who currently heads up global marketing at BlackBerry World.

Shields was awarded an OBE last year for trying to turn Old Street Roundabout into a gleaming hub of tech entrepreneurism, rather than just a nasty old traffic feature in a dilapidated East London backwater.

She spent just over 18 months attempting this, before breaking and running to the London Stock Exchange Group, taking up a non-executive director's post.

In a letter to staff which was leaked on Twitter, Shields wrote: "We have come a long way in three years and there is incredible momentum underway. Our challenge now is to build on these strong foundations and ensure that entrepreneurs and their investors continue to see the UK as the best place in the world to imagine, start and grow a digital business."

She said her replacement was a "Shoreditch local" who brings "a strong combination of startup and corporate experience" to Tech City.

Shields also claimed that the number of tech firms in London has increased by 76 per cent between 2009 to 2012, with the capital's tech sector in general swelling by 17 per cent in the same period. However, considering the government is keen to label PR firms, travel agents and even food shops as digital businesses, these figures may need a thorough salting before consumption.

Nonetheless, the new Tech City CEO is delighted about his new job.

“Tech City is a blueprint for what can be achieved when the right people and the right policies work together,” Grech said. “London has become a leading centre for digital innovation and entrepreneurship and my role, together with Joanna and the team, will be to help take things to the next level, delivering on key initiatives, introducing more partnerships and further solidifying Tech City in the international tech scene."

Sadly, our own Steve Bong does not appear to have been considered for the job, despite his love of East-End manufactured artisanal tripe and the friendship with Russell Brand, the "post-profit humble Christ of startups".

We contacted Bong for comment but his assistant มาลัย (which means "Garland of Flowers" in Thai) told us he is preparing for the World Economic Forum in Davos next week.

He'll be filing his Reg column from there, we're told. ®

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