Tuesday 17th September. Time to hotfoot it to China. The day starts with a 6am start at Derby train station. By 10 am I am all checked in at Heathrow and ready for the flight. It’s at this stage you realise how small the world is. We get obsessed with scale in the UK. We talk about key cities and core cities, looking at the profile, funding and investor interest places receive. When you land in China, it puts the UK cities into miniature model mode. Cities in China need to be seen to be believed.
Four hours after landing in Shanghai, I arrive in Hefei, a city with a population of 8 million people – the same size as London, and a city that was recently identified by The Economist as the ‘world’s No. 1 fastest growing metropolitan economy.’ Hefei is the capital city of the Anhui province, which has an overall population of over 63 million. Hefei is the host city for this year’s World Manufacturing Convention, and I am here as part of a D2 mission (Derby and Derbyshire), to attend the Convention and raise the profile of D2.
Derby and Hefei are two cities with a unique synergy – both are global leaders in innovation and advanced manufacturing. This synergy extends to those shared with Derbyshire and the Anhui Province, which are both a hotbed for tourism and culture.
D2 has got the offer and narrative in place, enabling the region to foster deeper international relationships, such as this mission. Our scale as a region back in the UK does not come into question because of our offer. The world is on the move and we are no longer defined by the permanence of geography.