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Lee Omar

What do you know? 

I’m CEO of Red Ninja, a design-led technology company that co-creates technology using their expertise in artificial intelligence, data science, Internet of Things, smart cities, electrical engineering and app development.  I help organisations use innovation and create digital products.


During the last eight years, I have concentrated on smart city design and am particularly interested in the intersection between where our online world meets the ‘real’ world. 


I advise Number 10 Downing Street, HM Treasury, DCMS, BEIS and have worked with the Chief Scientific Advisor to the UK Government on the Foresight Future Cities programme, advising the government on technological change up to 2065. 


I also advise the Indian Government on Smart City technologies and business models at President and Chief Minister level and lecture at the University of Oxford on Future Technology, as well as having a weekly slot on the BBC discussing technology trends.


Other areas of my work include being selected to be on the NHS England sponsored Insight Programme that identified high quality candidates to become Non-Executives on NHS Trust Boards. 


I am co-chair of Liverpool City Region Local Enterprise Partnership Creative and Digital Board and Founder and Trustee of SOLA, an arts charity based in Toxteth focused on integration, education and empowerment through the arts in displaced communities. 


In my spare time, I am studying for a PhD in the design of digital health applications that leverage artificial intelligence.


Why do you do what you do?
I am passionate about human rights, which is where I started before moving into technology. Before founding Red Ninja, I worked in the human rights sector for 11 years, empowering refugees to build new lives. I have carried this drive to improve lives into all my work and it is my ambition later in life to work with the UN in the area of conflict resolution.


How can you be useful? 

I specialist in a wide range of areas including the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, mobile technology, smart cities, blockchain, data science, community development and social enterprise.

I have recently 'spun-out' a digital health product company, Safe Steps, that reduces falls for the ageing population and I’m among 11 new Fellows to be selected to join prestigious NHS Innovation Accelerator following a rigorous, multi-stage assessment process chaired by Professor Stephen Powis, National Medical Director of NHS England.

I have also responded to COVID-19 crisis by co-designing and deploying technology for care homes that reduce the spread of COVID-19. 


Another company I have spun out is a digital product company, iSensing, that helps cities plan for the future of transport. 

What album has most inspired you?

It has to be The Stone Roses 'Coming of Age' in the early 90s, my teenage years; we were all about live music and saving up enough money to get the bus into town to go to HMV to buy an album on CD (remember them?).


The sound was like nothing I had ever heard - an expansive psychedelic pop. It looked back to the Sixties yet but was influenced by indie and the emerging acid house scene. They were proper Northern, streetwise lads, on the edge of fashion and art. The album cover is a Jackson Pollock influenced piece by John Squire the guitarist.  I loved to see them on TV, in print or on the radio. They were edgy, anti-establishment and funny. They were my generation's Beatles. They influenced the clothes I wore, the clubs I would go to, the music I listened to and I even would try and walk with the swagger they had!


After a hiatus of a few years, they came back to show the emerging Britpop bands like Oasis, who was boss. My first trip to Glastonbury in 1995 was because The Stone Roses were headlining (they had to cancel), it was here I discovered the joys of repetitive beats and the rave, I would have to wait a little longer to see them live at The Royal Court in Liverpool later that year and the following year I saw there the last gig for over a decade at the Reading Festival, it was a bit of a damp squib, half the original band had left and it was Rage Against the Machine who stole the show at that festival. 


I still listen to tracks of this album most months, and it sounds as fresh today as it did back when I first heard them as a schoolboy on my Sony Discman. Years later I got to meet Mani, their bassist, at a party, where he was DJing for Liam Gallagher, he was such a sound bloke, it was sweet to get to meet one of my heroes. I booked him for some DJ gigs and I was always excited when I got to hang out with him, it took me back to being a teenager. 


They eventually reformed a few years ago and worked with some people I know to front a campaign and tour to fight for justice for the Hillsborough tragedy.  This personifies them for me. Amazing music, good people and fighting the good fight with some rock and roll and dancing along the way.

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