Latest News | 17 March 2022

Roundtable discussion: ‘How can economic growth be sustainable?’

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At this year’s MIPIM, Team Derby and Derbyshire held a roundtable to discuss economic growth – and how it can be sustainable.

Held in the boardroom at the UK Pavilion this morning, the session was chaired by David Williams, vice-chairman of the D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership.

He was joined by members of Team Derby and Derbyshire – John Forkin, managing director of Marketing Derby, the inward investment agency’s chairman Bob Betts and Paul Simpson, chief executive of Derby City Council.

Joining them for the roundtable discussion were Emma Davies, regeneration and residential development manager and UK Lead for regeneration at Faithful+Gould and Courtney Fingar, editor-in-chief at Investment Monitor and a global expert on foreign direct investment.

David opened the discussion by citing some of the projects taking place in Derby and Derbyshire that fit in with the ambition to create a sustainable, growing economy.

He mentioned SmartParc SEGRO Spondon, a brand-new high-tech food manufacturing and distribution campus being created on the site of the former British Celanese works.

Once complete, the development will cover 1.85 million sq ft and employ around 5,000 people.

It will be the first low-carbon food manufacturing community, paving the way for the food industry to collaborate to meet the challenges of sustainable production, while also addressing the need for efficient direct routes to consumers.

David said that developments like SmartParc were putting Derby “ahead of the game”.

Paul said Derby’s existing manufacturers were also leading the way in terms of developing more sustainable products.

Examples cited included Rolls-Royce’s all-electric Spirit of Innovation aircraft, train-builder Alstom’s work to create the UK’s first hydrogen-powered train fleet and the city council’s partnership with Toyota to develop greener mobility solutions.

He also talked about the city’s ambitions to become a centre of excellence for future fuels technology, particularly hydrogen.

He said: “A lot of positive steps have already been made towards creating a sustainable economy in Derby.”

However, in terms of the challenges, Courtney said that for some businesses, making the switch to greener technology was like “jumping off a cliff” – and that firms needed to make sure that their workforces could evolve with those changes.

She said: “Businesses need to make sure they are investing in the necessary skills when they make that leap.

“Keeping to a long-term vision is also a challenge. How do you maintain that vision through political cycles?”

The roundtable also discussed how happiness and wellbeing was linked to GDP.

It was argued that the UK still lags behind when considering it as a key measure for growth – with Nordic countries, like Finland, held up as positive examples.

The roundtable also discussed the merits of public/private sector partnerships, agreeing that when such partnerships work, things get done quicker.

The full discussion will appear in the summer edition of Marketing Derby’s Innovate magazine.

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