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Technology is paving the way for our city’s brilliant future

TECHNOLOGY is ever changing writes Nicholas Mann, chair of Milton Keynes Business Leaders Partnership. From the days of having people come into your home to install the internet, to now the intricately clever inventions we see affecting our daily lives – from AI to automation – it’s developing at an incredibly fast pace.

When I first started in business, you could only use one font, you couldn’t use graphics and you couldn’t use colour. Nowadays, people can design bespoke designs for their businesses, without necessarily being an expert in a certain subject.

AI has allowed people able to write blogs, and numerous applications have allowed them to design something for themselves and their businesses in a fraction of the time (and sometimes a fraction of the cost).

Milton Keynes has long been a home of innovation and we are proud that business giants such as Oracle Red Bull Racing, Santander, and Network Rail call our city their home. So, it is no surprise that a recent report conducted by Whitecap Consulting highlighted just that.

It was found that a third of all city residents work in and around technology and a fifth of the 12,675 businesses are related to technology in some way. However, there is still plenty of work that can and should be done to achieve the realistic potential to turn Milton Keynes into a technological powerhouse, like Silicon Valley in California.

Now this may seem like a lofty goal but why not? You can’t travel around the whole of this great city without seeing great examples of technology that have been trialled and proven as a success. Just five years ago the innovative Starship Robots made their first deliveries in one of the first, full-scale uses of that kind of technology.

Just three years ago we started seeing e-scooters racing along our city redways, following a successful trial between Milton Keynes Council and Lime. Now, they are readily available and accepted as a green transport solution for those travelling a few miles for both business and pleasure activities.

This technology was not only unthinkable a decade or so ago, but if these (among others) can continue to be proven successful in this city then the dream of an MK-based Silicon Valley doesn’t seem too implausible. We want the tech giants who work in California and in large countries to have Milton Keynes in their thoughts when they’re planning on where to build their next base, and why shouldn’t that be a possibility?

As a city we may be making the right noises to achieve our lofty technological goals, but, as with everything great in business, collaboration is needed to take us to the next steps, and beyond.

We need companies to be open to these new technologies and we need residents to welcome them and their headquarters because we can’t and won’t be a major player in this space if people can’t even get past the planning stage owing to opposition and closed-minded thinking.

I’ve seen firsthand with my own company, Interdirect, the power of collaboration, using the best parts of individual companies/agencies working together to offer customers a unique and refreshing proposition all in one package, as opposed to them seeking individual elements.

At an MKBLP dinner in June, we were joined by distinguished guest speaker, Mr Nilesh ‘Neil’ Sachdev – Non-Executive Chair of East West Rail. He spoke about the growth of Milton Keynes and the importance of growing the city’s connections East to West from areas such as Oxford and Cambridge by rail. The announcement of the route of the ‘most challenging’ eastern part of East West Rail from Bedford to Cambridge was something that filled us all with excitement.

In the not-too-distant future Milton Keynes will be well connected by rail to a number of areas and that, with significant advances in technology, will see us able to attract – and retain – the best business talent from around the country. It will also add a planned £110 billion in Gross Added Value to the city, and for that to be potentially happening in the next decade is well worth getting behind.

In 2024, the theme for the 10th anniversary of Milton Keynes Business Achievement Awards will be Forever Innovative: Leading the UK’s High-tech Future. I genuinely believe that Milton Keynes is doing just that – remaining a key innovator and one that is taking the lead when it comes to the future of technology around the world. Watch this space.

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