So the die has been cast and we have a decision. A decision that has shattered the establishment and shock us all to the core. Like many in the weeks leading up to the referendum I was struggling to understand the facts and seeking to determine what were facts and what were lies from both sides of the argument. A week before the vote I was coming down on the side of leave, but in the days leading up Thursday and having taken council from friends and family I voted to remain in the European Union.
Waking up to the news that the populous had made their decision and that decision Brexit, left me first feeling numb and then when the news that Cameron would be falling on his sword, massively concerned. While he was not going to be steering the ship, who would? The prospects of a world led by Boris Johnson, Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump left me very much fearing for the future.
However, as an business owner an entrepreneur who set up his business just as the global recession struck in late 2007 we have become used to uncertainty and chaotic times. We are confronted with choices, we could either become frozen we fear, hunker down and hope that one day all will be good or we can take accountability to adapt to uncertainties, spot opportunities, see new markets, develop new products and services and embrace a positive mindset.
To quote Albert Einstein: “In the middle of every difficulty lies opportunity”
The truth of the matter is that when Britain has faced financial turmoil in the past, it has eventually emerged ever stronger. The city of London, the bedrock of our prosperity and a huge source of oversea earnings, is amazingly resilient. We should not forget that ‘Black Wednesday’ is now seen as ‘White Wednesday’ because it launched the UK on the longest uninterrupted period of growth, prosperity and higher living standards in modern times.
The impact of the devaluation of the pound in the short term could provide benefits to major engineering companies around Derby, including Rolls Royce and JCB. Indeed Rolls Royce’s shares the UK’s most successful engineering company actually rose on Friday on the prospect of increased competitiveness and export opportunities to the Middle East, Far East and North America. Lord Bamford, who one of the few members of the business community who advocated a leave vote has commented: ” As a consequence of this momentous decision, we should look ahead to opportunities to trade more freely with the rest of the world, as well as building on existing trading relationships with customers and suppliers in Europe.”
Yes, in the short term there is going to be significant uncertainty and no shortage of political turmoil both in the UK, across Europe and indeed the rest of the world. The coming weeks might well be bumpy and Brexit doesn’t alter the wider reality of a global slowdown but, unlike the straightjacketed eurozone, Britain now has the freedom to move fast. Lord Digby Jones the ex CBI chief has highlighted that the Brexit decision has opened the UK up to the world and we must “all now make the most of our new found freedom”
So what does it mean for Derby. 300 years of entrepreneurs have had a huge impact the world-stage; Jedediah Strutt, Richard Arkwright and Joseph Wright. These individuals started with nothing but an idea, creating the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution and now the global HQ for one of the world’s biggest companies, Rolls-Royce. The city is also home to high growth companies such as EPM technology who are leaders in the area of composites manufacturing and are at the cutting edge of Formula One engineering.
The city is also extremely fortunate to have Marketing Derby, an organisation that is not only focused on bringing Inward Investment to the city, but is also focused on galvanising the local business community through its Bondholder programme.
Derby has a huge opportunity to not only build on this legacy of innovation and entrepreneurship to carve out a future vision of prosperity and growth and global leadership in High Technology engineering. The city was recognised in late 2015 as the “Start Up capital of the UK”
“Derby might not make international headlines as a business powerhouse – but we think that’s about to change. It may not be widely known, but Derby is actually the UK’s number one tech city – with 12% of its workforce employed in hi-tech industry. As a point of reference, that’s four times the national average, and double that of other hi-tech cities.
“More importantly, fresh, young start-ups are finding a huge level of support thanks to Derby’s grassroots enterprise hub, extensive Creative Industries Network and some of the UK’s biggest industrial clusters.” the report highlighted.
With the new Infinity Park now coming out of the ground, the iHUB Innovation centre providing fantastic incubation facilities for manufacturing and engineering companies we will have the infrastructure in place to capitalise on future opportunities. The city is blessed with having a great location in the heart of the country and can more than take a huge leadership role in powering the Midlands engine.
In the midst of the current chaos and divide, there now lies an incredible opportunity for the UK and Derby to unite, put the past behind it, and reinvent itself for the future ahead.
I fully acknowledge that there will be significant hardship over the coming months and work to be done to heal the deep inflicted scars, but I firmly believe that with a powerful vision, strong leadership from both the Public and Private sector, a powerful support structure to help accelerate business growth and with the courage to make difficult decisions that we will look back on the decision as the opportunity to build on the Industrial Revolution and drive out the new High Tech Revolution.
In the words of Malcolm X – “The future belongs to those who prepare for it today.”