Labour’s Chi Onwurah has said technology is a “driver of progress for humanity” but warned that companies must use data responsibly.

Onwurah was MP for Newcastle Central until Parliament was dissolved recently and will again stand at the General Election on June 8th.

The Labour spokesperson on Industrial Strategy, Science and Innovation told budding entrepreneurs on the opening day of Newcastle Startup Week that firms must win the trust of consumers.

“I believe that technology and politics are the twin drivers of progress for humanity, although politicians don’t always realise their potential,” she said.

“[But] who owns the data that platforms like Facebook collect on their users? This uncertainty is damaging for businesses and for start-ups.

“I hope that you’re going to be using the vast amounts of data which are shared on a daily, hourly and minute-by-minute basis in a way which garners people’s trust.

“For that to happen, consumers need to know that their data is theirs and is being treated safely and securely.”

Onwurah added: “Every big company was once an idea in somebody’s head. Every start-up has the potential to become something special in people’s lives.”

A day before Labour unveils its manifesto, she told the audience in Newcastle’s Boiler Room – a redeveloped space inside the former engine room of the Stephenson Company locomotive works – that she hoped the NHS cyber attack would not harm public trust in technology.

“What’s happened over the weekend – and we’re still going through the consequences and implications of that – is going to mark a step change in the public’s understanding of cyber security,” she said.

“We can use that to our benefit, by becoming more cyber secure, or it could have the detrimental effect of people using tech less.

“We need to ensure we have a Government which understands the tech sector and can build on our success.”

See the timeline of the opening day of Newcastle Startup Week - 'inspiration day' - below.