Latest News | 21 April 2020

COVID – Resilience, recovery and renewal

Share this post:

Today, Her Majesty The Queen approved the Prime Minister’s recommendation that Marketing Derby is to receive the prestigious Queen’s Award for Enterprise.

Queen Elizabeth II

Queen Elizabeth II

The award is for Innovation, based on our groundbreaking business model, which has successfully attracted over 5,000 jobs and £500m of investment into Derby and Derbyshire.

It reflects the commitment and contribution of the broader Marketing Derby team – our staff, board, Bondholders and public sector partners.

I like to think of it as an MBE for Team Derby.

Needless to say, receiving the award at this time – in the midst of the global Covid pandemic – inevitably leads to muted celebration. The primary agenda today is to save lives. Hopefully, once the crisis is passed, we will be able to reflect and celebrate with our Bondholders and partners.

The Queen’s Award has four categories and it seems appropriate that we were selected in that of innovation.

Anyone who knows Marketing Derby will be aware that we have anchored so much of our investment pitch on the area’s 300-year track record as the UK Capital for Innovation.

As an Investment Promotion Agency, we have made innovation central to our message and put it at the heart of our own activity. The Queen’s Award is based on this.

A good example would be the Embassy events that we have held in venues across the UK, France and in China. Embassy locations have ranged from important national political hubs, such as Downing Street and the House of Lords, to the historic Lambeth Palace and the thoroughly modern 36th floor of a London skyscraper, as featured in James Bond’s film, Skyfall.

Our publications – such as the edgy DBY and classy Orrery magazines – and use of online platforms – most especially our distinctive eshots – as well as creative films and the unique London Ambassador Club, all seek to positively differentiate Derby and Derbyshire for investors.

Of course, underpinning all of this are our dynamic Bondholders.

These are the 400 companies – small, medium and large – plus public organisations, such as the City and County Councils and the D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership, that support our activity by funding it.

We always say that Bondholders showcase all that is best about our area and the Queen’s Award is proof positive of this, as is the way in which our Bondholder community has contributed during the current Covid crisis.

Back in January, 500 people gathered at Derby Theatre for the Marketing Derby Annual Business Event, badged ‘Vision 2020’. Little did we know that by Easter, the world would have fundamentally changed.

In those few subsequent weeks, the Covid-19 virus spread out of China, moved across Europe and America and now affects every part of the planet. Millions of people have been infected and over a hundred thousand have died.

The economy has shuddered to a brutal halt as most of the world’s population have been confined to their homes to reduce the spread.

Covid has happened so hard and so fast, that it is still too early to really comprehend.

I would use three words to describe how I – and I suspect many others – feel; anxious, disorientated and resilient.

The anxiety is obvious, starting with health concerns; for ourselves, our families, friends, colleagues and wider community.

The daily death toll is a reality jab that plays on both our conscious and subconscious. Last week, I lost a dear uncle to Covid, my Godfather, a reminder that behind each number lies a very human story.

Over the next few weeks, expect the root of anxiety to shift from health to wider economic concerns.

The disorientation I feel is the consequence of the suspension of regular life, as the daily grind we used to love to moan about, has been wiped away.

Life has become blurred, dreamlike and phantasmagorical.

Time has become cloudy and abstract. There is a blurring between home and work, between weekdays and weekends. Crossing the road when you see another person has become commonplace. Picking up parcels with gloves, standing 2 metres apart in shops and the endless, relentless washing of hands, have all become quickly embedded as 2020 rituals.

Our human day-to-day contact has been replaced by the lexicon of Zoom, MS Teams, Facetime and WhatsApp. We have all become experts on PPE, herd immunity and flattened curves. Government seems confused and we compare and contrast the experience of other counties in this mass real-time laboratory.

Which brings me finally to resilience which, frankly, I see everywhere.

I see it in the Royal Derby around the corner from where I live and in the many frontline care workers visiting homes in my neighbourhood.

I see it in the shop workers on my high street and in the delivery drivers and bin collectors whizzing around the avenues.

I see it in the city’s charities and volunteers, the Council community hubs and in the business support agencies.


I see it in the government’s furlough scheme that has kept the wolf at the door for so many businesses.

I see it in our Bondholder community, providing reassurance, support and signposting to each other.

I see it in the humour embedded in the many memes, GIFs and films being circulated online.

I see it in Captain Tom and his £25m walk.

So, what will be the Covid legacy?

Will we soon forget the key workers being clapped each Thursday? Will we remember the behaviour of the Bransons, Greens, Martins and Ashleys of the world?

I am under no illusion that the economic impact will be severe and there will be a recalibration of almost everything we knew. At some point, there is going to have be a coordinated global response – equivalent to Bretton Woods in 1945 – and international institutions remodelled.

We will need to reimagine the national economy and repurpose our city.

Which brings me back to the core theme of innovation.

Covid-19 is possibly the greatest existential threat to Derby since the Romans invented the place when they pitched up at Chester Green 2,000 years ago.

The Annual Business Event 2020 held at Derby Theatre

The Annual Business Event 2020 held at Derby Theatre

However, for me, it’s a test of our economy and community that we will pass.

My confidence is drawn from the energy and common purpose I’ve seen during the crisis and that our innovation – surely the nature and nurture of our DNA – and resilience will soon evolve into recovery and eventual renewal.


Related Articles...

This will close in 0 seconds