A TEESSIDE technology firm is celebrating growth with a hire to look after its European partnerships as it develops its augmented and virtual reality software.

Hartlepool-based Evolution Risk Assurance (ERA) has welcomed growth despite the pandemic and anticipates high turnover with further expansion.

Its training, development and risk management tools allow businesses to test response procedures and employee competence through immersive technology.

This is particularly important for hazard sectors like nuclear, pharmaceutical and chemical.

Alan Harrison, who has held senior positions in emergency response and management, has been appointed as ERA's operations director for Europe to develop its relationships across the continent.

Additional hires are expected in the coming months as the firm brings its technology-based products online and opens offices around the world, including in Asia Pacific and Gulf Coast Countries.

ERA has seen success through integrated emerging technologies, like augmented and virtual reality, with a new line of software applications to manage risk, staff competence and the remote management of large-scale emergencies.

Mr Harrison, 50, who spent 20 years working at a local authority fire service before moving into consultancy, said: "A big part of the reason I have joined ERA is the opportunity to build relationships with people as we continue to grow because of the desire for immersive technologies and mixed reality human performance development.

“We are looking at digitalisation, efficiency, improving technical skills and soft skills utilising new technologies that not only provide cost efficiencies but actually complement traditional face to face learning within a blended learning approach.

“My strategic aim is to facilitate our continued organic growth and ensure we have the systems and processes to meet client expectations.

“We are developing solutions for a post-Covid business environment and we will be utilising my depth of experience in various high hazard sectors, such as nuclear, pharmaceutical, oil and gas, manufacturing and chemical.”

Kevin Boffy, chief executive of ERA, welcomed the appointment.

He said: “Our appointment of Alan highlights our intention to continue to grow in the UK and Europe, he understands the core principles of ERA of quality and continual improvement and will ensure that these principles are embedded within our day-to-day service provision.

“Alan is joining the business to widen our offering. He will oversee our expansion into process safety and the development of leadership and soft skills for supervisory and leadership teams.

“Alan is one of a number of appointments we will make during Q1. We will make appointments at an operational level but also at board level.”