Region’s business leaders listed in top 100

From left: Ian Watson, Start-Rite Shoes, James Duez, Rainbird, David Batch, Premier Education. Pictu

From left: Ian Watson, Start-Rite Shoes, James Duez, Rainbird, David Batch, Premier Education. Pictures: Grant Thornton - Credit: Grant Thornton

Three of Norfolk's top business minds have been recognised in this year's list of the UK's most inspiring and innovative leaders.

David Batch, CEO of sports education provider Premier Education, James Duez, executive chairman of AI platform company Rainbird Technologies, and Ian Watson, CEO of children's footwear specialist Start-Rite, all feature in the 2018 'Faces of a Vibrant Economy' listing.

The list is compiled every year by financial and business advisers Grant Thornton.

Mr Duez of Norwich-based Rainbird, said: 'To me, Vibrant Faces is all about being able to champion and support entrepreneurship in all its forms. Business is changing - fast. Our children are likely to have several careers, not just one and will use technology not yet invented. As an entrepreneur, investor and technologist, I am energised by this challenge.

'Enterprise is also having to innovate and adapt quickly in the face of powerful automation technology. I hope to be able to stimulate discussion within both the education and business communities around these topics and have a positive impact.'

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The list recognises business leaders, entrepreneurs, local government innovators and third sector trailblazers who lead by example, show how profit with a purpose stimulates sustainable business growth, and are committed to developing an economy where people, organisations and communities thrive.

Mr Batch of Shropham-based Premier Education, said: 'This recognition reflects the growth we are experiencing due to our commitment to get kids active. We are passionate about creating innovative programmes, delivered through an excellent, committed network which keeps expanding both in terms of size and skill set.

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'There are many uncertainties in our country at present but despite this, the stories other faces tell and the social impact their businesses have are truly inspirational.'

The 2018 'faces' have become part of a wider 300-strong community which connects leaders with similar mindsets and missions who may otherwise never meet.

Mr Watson of Start-Rite Shoes, also based in Norwich, said: 'This is a great opportunity to connect with other like-minded leaders, share ideas and experiences and help to drive positive social change, locally, regionally and nationally.'

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