Cambridgeshire in good place for economic recovery, event hears
Cambridgeshire companies are well-placed to deliver a strong economic recovery to help the East of England, the county’s business leaders told an economic summit event this week.
Networking, digitisation and collaboration were identified as key drivers to boost economic recovery at the event on Tuesday, which was organised by chartered accountancy body ICAEW.
Cambridge entrepreneur David Cleevely, who was a panellist at the event, said businesses needed to consider what would happen over the next half decade as they came to terms with the impact of the pandemic, with a need for reskilling and more money spent on public health.
He said: “One of the things that has made the economy within Cambridge and the region is networking. I’m a great believer in that shared experience.
“We need to make sure our voices are heard with government so that we can let people understand what our priorities are.
“Individual prosperity depends on the prosperity of all.”
Panellist Vic Annells, chief executive of Cambridgeshire Chambers of Commerce, reflected on the differences between different parts of the county. He added that manufacturing companies, whose staff had not been able to work from home, were more prepared for restrictions to be lifted than companies in service sectors.
He added: “The difference in our county between those affluent, very prosperous areas and those areas of real deprivation has been staggering.
“The key for me is that the region has everything we need. With manufacturing in Peterborough and Huntingdon we have got companies who know how to make things happen. Companies in Cambridge are talented in the international piece.”
Jane Paterson-Todd, CEO of Cambridge Ahead, said her organisation had established New Era for the Cambridge Economy, a project group to consider the big questions facing business in the city.
She said: “People have developed new ways to balance work with life and vice versa. It’s about keeping a balance made possible by technological advancement that were not available… It could have a profound effect on the city economy but this depends on how sticky this observed behavioural change comes as the gates are fully open.
“Digitisation has given us choice and choice may shift the power over to the demand side and people, and away from the supply side.”
Linn Clabburn, Cambridge Norwich Tech Corridor programme director, said businesses and public sector organisations should consider opportunities for collaboration.
She said: “There’s never really been a better time for local businesses and regional businesses to consider how they might want to work with the public sector. The past 18 months have made many publicly-funded organisations realise that they need to work much more closely with their businesses to drive digitisation and come up with new ways of delivering their services in a way that they have never really been able to in the past.”
She added there had been growth in start-ups and investment in recent months.
The summit coincided with the publication of ICAEW’s Business Confidence Monitor for Q2 2021, which found that confidence among businesses in the East of England had risen dramatically. Sales, profits, employment levels and investment are all slated to improve.
Iain Wright, ICAEW Managing Director for Reputation and Influence, said that business confidence had risen sharply compared to six months ago when companies were in “the depths of despair”.
He added: “The East of England has one of the strongest and most resilient labour markets anywhere in the UK.”
Notes to editors
- ICAEW’s Business Confidence Monitor for the East of England is available here.
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