Top Facebook executive hired to help improve fortunes of UK's digital and technology companies

The UK has the potential to become a "major force" in digital innovation, according to the woman chosen to head up an investment group dedicated to improving the fortunes of firms in the sector.

Top Facebook executive Joanna Shields has been announced as the new head of the Government's Tech City Investment Organisation as Prime Minister David Cameron looks to increase the number of media, software and technology firms creating jobs by basing their operations in the country.

There is already a strong presence of such firms in an area of London known as Silicon Roundabout, including Google, Intel and Cisco, but the PM hopes the appointment of Ms Shields will help encourage more global giants - and smaller start-ups - to move to the area and thereby boost the employment prospects for those keen to get a job in the sector.

Mr Cameron said the Tech City organisation had already helped many UK firms thrive in the fast-moving sector but that he was "delighted" by the appointment of Ms Shields as her experience in the industry would further boost the chances of British companies competing for business and sales against others in the industry.

Mr Cameron said: "Joanna's experience will be hugely valuable in supporting Tech City as it goes from strength to strength, and as a business ambassador promoting the UK around the world."

Ms Shields has been working in the UK for the past decade, currently as a Facebook vice-president and managing director of Europe, the Middle East and Africa, but also with other companies in the sector.

She said she was thrilled at the opportunity to take up the role in January, and was "proud" to also have been named a business ambassador for the UK's digital industries.

She pledged to work hard to increase the chances of success for the companies she will be representing, adding that with the right boost, it would be possible to make London the number one location for technology in the world.

Ms Shields said that the infrastructure, technology and talent already exist in the sector to help it do well, and that her job will be to help the companies by attracting inward investment.

She will also support those which want to further their ambitions by expanding into international markets.

Copyright Press Association 2012