The Newcastle-based director of development agency Project North East will take up the £100,000 a year post in March, putting an end to the five-month search for a suitable candidate.
Irwin, who has signed a two-year contract, will report to trade and industry secretary Stephen Byers and have regular contact with small firms minister Patricia Hewitt.
He told Accountancy Age.com he aims to encourage more people to start up and grow small businesses. He added: ‘My aim is to make it far simpler and easier to comply with regulation.’
However the announcement surprised many insiders who had expected a higher profile announcement would be named.
Whizkid multi-millionaire Reuben Singh, 23, who made a fortune from Miss Attitude fashion chains was the favourite for the job. However it is understood Singh was not prepared to take up the role on a full-time basis.
The Federation of Small Businesses welcomed the appointment, and said Irwin had ‘proved himself at the sharp end.’
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