York played host on Thursday 30 November to His Excellency Miguel Berger, the German Ambassador to the UK, for a visit which showcased the city’s history and architectural splendour, as well as its more recent role in pioneering Artificial Intelligence technologies.
On arriving at York station, the Ambassador was met by the Lord Mayor Cllr Chris Cullwick, the Lady Mayoress Joy Cullwick and members of City of York Council’s Inward Investment team.
The day included a tour of York Minster which saw the Ambassador meet with some of the Minster’s teams of skilled glaziers and stonemasons, who are keeping centuries-old skills alive as they maintain the world-famous sight of the medieval cathedral for future generations.
Ambassador Berger then travelled to the University of York in Heslington to meet with Professor Mathias Ruth, the university’s Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research and hear about the groundbreaking work in research and innovation taking place in York. The group then toured the labs at the Institute for Safe Autonomy (ISA) with Professor Miles Elsden, the Institute’s Director, getting a behind-the-scenes look at some of the very latest AI innovations.
The tour gave a first-hand insight into how the ISA is developing vital solutions to ensure these technologies do not compromise safety and security.
The Ambassador spoke about his admiration for the way the UK combines learning with innovation, and expressed hopes for enhanced international collaboration in the years ahead.
The day concluded with a presentation from software engineering company ETAS, a York-based subsidiary of German firm Bosch, which specialises in developing innovative systems for the automotive industry.
Nigel Tracey, Manager of ETAS, outlined some of the reasons why York makes for a highly attractive destination for high-growth potential tech companies, including the desirability of the city as a place to live, work and do business, the availability of talented, industry-ready graduates from York’s two world-class universities, and access to the cutting-edge research taking place at centres like the ISA.
Cllr Chris Cullwick, the Rt. Hon Lord Mayor of York, said:
“It was a great pleasure to introduce the Ambassador to York.
“This visit truly gave a sense of how York both embraces the past and looks ahead to a bright future. We saw how age-old masonry techniques are preserving the historic face of our city centre’s most iconic structure, before exploring one of the centres of cutting-edge research that calls our city home.
“I very much hope that the Ambassador enjoyed his time here in York, and I feel confident that our city’s international friendships will continue to thrive for many years ahead.”
Cllr Pete Kilbane, Deputy Leader of City of York Council and Executive Member for Transport and Economy, said:
“I’d like to extend my thanks to Ambassador Berger for visiting us in York and taking time to learn about the innovative and exciting work currently taking place here.
“Our ambitious economic strategy sets out our aim to maintain York’s position as an international leader for innovation as well as heritage, and it was great to see some dynamic work and research being recognised on this visit.
“For centuries, our city has been at the forefront of pioneering new technologies and industries, from the industrial boom of the nineteenth century to our growing tech, bioeconomy and manufacturing sectors today.
“The visit was a great opportunity to shine a light on York’s international role in high-growth industries such as AI, and I very much hope that we will continue to attract investment and collaboration from major economic players like Germany in the future.”
His Excellency Miguel Berger, Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to the United Kingdom, said:
“To truly understand the UK in all its facets, I try to visit as many cities and regions outside of London as possible.
“I’m therefore very grateful to The Rt. Hon Lord Mayor of York, Reverend Councillor Chris Cullwick, for his kind invitation to this historic and beautiful cathedral city. It’s great to see the flourishing connection between York and Germany, furthered in no small part by the active twinning with the German city of Münster.
“It was impressive seeing the close and thriving economic relationship between the UK and Germany exemplified by the cutting-edge work for “safe autonomy” by the University of York and Robert Bosch’s subsidiary ETAS, leading global supplier of embedded control systems for the automotive industry. Their work is an outstanding example of how Germany and the UK are collaborating on future technologies.”
Professor Matthias Ruth, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research at the University of York, said:
"The Institute for Safe Autonomy at the University of York aims to minimise the risks associated with robotics and connected autonomous systems, while exploring their potential to deliver impactful solutions for the benefit of society, the economy and the planet.
“In presenting the Institute to His Excellency Miguel Berger, we highlighted that working in partnership with researchers, industries, governments and wider society we can provide better understanding of the safe, ethical and real-world applications of autonomous systems."