The North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has appointed a new innovation director.

Alan Welby will lead the LEP's Innovation Programme, which was set up to drive delivery of key programmes and stimulate investment in innovation and its ecosystem in the North East of England.

Welby joins the LEP from Liverpool John Moores University, where he was director of research, innovation and partnerships and was responsible for delivering and managing a £25.7m annual programme of community, commercial and collaborative activity.

"I am delighted to join the LEP as innovation director," Welby said. "I am very pleased to be working back in the North East and am looking forward to delivering results.

"I have always wanted to make a positive difference and this role will allow me to do so as innovation is so important when it comes to competing in a global economy.

"I am inheriting a lot of good work and the North East has a great track record in cutting-edge innovation.

"It is a very exciting time for innovation in the region and I am looking forward to getting started."

As innovation director, Welby will also play a pivotal role in helping to deliver the North East Strategic Economic Plan (SEP).

Helen Golightly, executive director at the LEP, added: "We are determined to define the North East as an innovation hotspot in Europe – an exemplar in ‘smart specialisation’ and open innovation systems and practice.

"We are therefore thrilled to welcome someone of Alan's calibre to the team. We are confident his skills and vast experience in the innovation field will help us achieve our goal."