North’s solution to economic recovery
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By Professor George Lodorfos, Leeds Business School, Leeds Becket University
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are the backbone of the northern economy. They are a priority in industrial and development strategies and constitute a significant proportion of all the companies or enterprises in our region. Agile SMEs with the appropriate support and enabling ecosystems have the potential to play an important role in, and even accelerate the economic recovery of our region.
It is universally agreed that Covid-19 has changed our world in unprecedented ways. It comes as no surprise that this includes changes in the structure and modus operandi of many industries, which have triggered business model innovations and altered both consumers’ and employees’ expectations and behaviours.
To address the challenges and benefit from these drastic changes, businesses will need to adjust to the new business environment, realise the benefits of strategic relationships and, crucially, adapt and innovate.
Cooperation among governments, regional organisations and the business community is also necessary to support the sustainable growth of businesses, regardless of size or sector and to accelerate the economic recovery of our region. In particular, the ‘anchor’ institutions – which are defined as large, local, mainly not-for-profit employers, with significant purchasing power and a recognised role in the north – have the potential to make an impactful contribution as key regional stakeholders. This collective agency cooperation will create opportunities for better purchasing and financing deals, strategic relationships, joint ventures and even mergers and acquisitions which can help businesses survive, innovate, grow and lead to long-term benefits.
In addition, there is a need for dynamic business ecosystems that are responsive to rapid changes, are open to innovation and new approaches, and support new paradigms. Furthermore, the north has the potential to gain a competitive advantage by enabling and facilitating the connectivity between the already established regional ecosystems. I believe that the potential returns from the synergies realised from integrated ecosystems are significant and potentially unique to the north.
For me, strategic partnerships, resilient and agile businesses, and talent are the key pillars to support the sustainable development of businesses operating in enabling dynamic and connected ecosystems.
Going forward, I believe that businesses of all sizes should focus on establishing or strengthening their strategic relationships with key stakeholders, developing organisational and employee resilience and using their ecosystems to innovate and gain new insights as to how the new and evolving markets work, and how they can effectively operate in them.
Leeds Business School, Leeds Becket University is one of the partners for next week’s virtual conference, Invest North.
The full day event will be packed with insights that can sharpen your thinking and inform your strategy, and features more than 60 fantastic speakers from business, politics and the public sector, who lead and influence the North’s economy.