* indicates required

Positioning local businesses for a global future

YOU MAY have been following the showcase of British business at this year’s International Business Festival in Liverpool (June 12-28). 
This event has brought together 30,000 business leaders and professionals, buyers, innovators and investors during 55 events, with many innovative ideas from the South East Midlands businesses represented. 
This festival was more than positioning for a post-Brexit world. It was the place and space to showcase British businesses, our innovation capability and where British business will be leading the future global economy. 
This was also a time to focus in on the work to strengthen British business through the government’s Industrial Strategy – the four Grand Challenges and the investment funds (Challenge Funds) – to support, strengthen and champion British business innovation and growth. 
This is a major opportunity for businesses across the country and we’re keen to see local businesses maximise the opportunities presented.
To do this, the government has asked SEMLEP – the partnership of businesses, local authorities and education providers tasked with promoting and steering investment into local economic growth – to develop a local industrial strategy specifically for the South East Midlands growth area.
In fact, the government has stated that they want our area, working with the Local Enterprise Partnerships from across the Oxford-Milton Keynes-Cambridge Growth Corridor, to be one of the three trailblazer areas for these strategies for the rest of the country. 
This is testament to the importance that government places on our area as the driver of economic success for the UK. 
What is the purpose of the Local Industrial Strategy?
This new strategy will be drilling down into the detail of what successes, strengths and opportunities businesses in the area have compared to their competitors across the world. 
Its aim is to identify the specific investments and actions the public sector -government, local government and SEMLEP, in partnership with business, should take to drive productivity in the South East Midlands area and enable those businesses in industrial and emerging sectors where we have local specialisms, to grow and compete on the world stage. 
This is not a strategy document that will be left sitting on the proverbial shelf. This is about real, long-term focus and investment in the areas that businesses tell us they need public intervention and support.
What is SEMLEP doing about it?
SEMLEP’s purpose is to enable and amplify the private sector voice in local economic policy, strategy and investment decisions. This is crucial to developing the Local Industrial Strategy and work has already begun on this. 
SEMLEP is hosting a series of round table discussions over the coming months with businesses engaged in local sector groups and other business representative organisations and, will be conducting an online consultation in the autumn.
We’re also doing a lot more analysis of the latest economic and business trends data which extends the work done undertaken for the Strategic Economic Plan.  
We are very much at the start of this process but emerging priorities identified by the businesses we’ve spoken to, backed up by the evidence, include a specific focus on actions that: 
  • Tackle the shortage of good quality employment premises and space, particularly for smaller, expanding businesses critical to our supply chain and sector strengths
  • Position our area as the central place to commercialise new technology, bringing in and generating more of the innovation, R and D strengths of the universities and businesses within the Oxford-Milton Keynes-Cambridge growth corridor.
  • Maximise and promote high-tech development and high-value specialisms we have in next generation vehicles and logistics 
  • Provide specialist business support to those businesses who have potential for rapid growth
  • Tackle issues that growing businesses have with access to energy and core utilities. 
We’re keen to hear from businesses and will, over the next few months encourage businesses to engage with us to feed into this work. 

An immediate opportunity is on July 11, at the Transport Systems Catapult, Milton Keynes. I will be there, with my team, asking you for your views on this agenda. Come along.

If you want further information, want to be involved and give us your views, email GrowingBusiness@semlep.com or visit www.semlep.com.  

More from Bedford: