A CARLISLE health innovator met the Pope while working in Rome.

Gareth Presch is founder of the World Health Innovation Summit (WHIS), which works to improve health and wellbeing across the globe.

He is also an expert leader for the United Nation’s Global Sustainable Index Institute (UNGSII).

This means he leads top level efforts to improve health and education in 30 cities worldwide, making him a key player globally.

Mr Presch was in Italy to discuss the UN Sustainable Development Goals at the Vatican.

He said: "A group of international experts were invited to discuss the Common Good in the Digital Age."

The Vatican said the Pope had addressed the ethical challenges of technological progress when he met in Audience with participants at the meeting on the Common Good in the digital age.

Gareth said: "I felt very grateful to be invited to meet Pope Francis at the Vatican and take part in the discussions about the Common Good in the digital age. It is the beginning of our work together as we support the implementation of the UN SDGs.

"Pope Francis spoke about "the indisputable benefit that humanity will be able to draw from technological progress depends on the degree to which the new possibilities at our disposal are employed in an ethical manner” - we agree and technology brings great opportunities as we've seen from our work that started with a tweet from Cumbria.

"I thanked him for his leadership. He smiled and just said thank you.

"Our audience with the Pope was about 60 minutes and he spoke about the risks and opportunities technology brings - The Pope said “a better world is possible thanks to technological progress, if this is accompanied by an ethic inspired by a vision of the common good, an ethic of freedom, responsibility and fraternity, capable of fostering the full development of people in relation to others and to the whole of creation” this is something we believe in and is the foundation of our work - World Health Innovation Summit is about generating value to be shared by all."

Mr Presch described the experience as a "memorable learning experience that opens new possibilities and opportunities to help and support people."

He said: "Our work is to help people improve their health and wellbeing (UN SDG3 Good Health & Wellbeing) while implementing the UN's 17 Sustainable Development Goals."

Mr Presch, who lives just outside Carlisle with his wife Krista and their two daughters, set up WHIS to help put Cumbria on the map for health innovation.

His work has snowballed, resulting in him regularly flying around the world for high-level networking events.