We’ve been delighted to share some brilliant thoughts from key spokespeople across the region in our ‘the view from here’ series, during what was an extraordinary year.
Reflecting on some of the challenges we faced in 2020, but also looking forward to the future beyond the crisis, we thought we’d remind you of some of our guest authors’ key insights.
A huge thanks to all our 2020 contributors, you can read all the interviews in full by following the links below.
Since the beginning of the first lockdown back in March 2020, we’ve seen just how resilient and adaptive our region’s businesses can be. As the COVID pandemic ground businesses to a halt across the world, entrepreneurs turned to innovative thinking in order to adapt and survive.
“I have seen so many examples of businesses that have delivered phenomenal change successfully. COVID-19 has forced businesses to pivot in order to succeed – for some these may be temporary changes, but for others it has revealed new markets or ways of working that mean they might never return to their pre-COVID shape.” Euan West, Office Senior Partner, KPMG.
Many innovative startups were able to survive, and in some cases thrive, amidst circumstances that challenged even the most robust business models and we saw countless examples of this both within the Nexus community and across the region.
“The crisis has precipitated rapid transformation in the NHS and social care at a time of immense challenge…
…Acceleration of new ideas and ways of working has been phenomenal, particularly around telephone and online appointments and hospital procedures.” Richard Stubbs, CEO, Yorkshire & Humber Academic Health Science Network
“I have been impressed by how utterly agile the region’s enterprises are. At every level from the big corporates to the freelancers, there have been countless examples of businesses being heroes – offering help and support to communities and individuals, reinventing or repurposing their operations to fulfil a new and changing need.” Beckie Hart, Regional Director, CBI.
And it’s nice to know that those business heroes have not gone unnoticed by our region’s key commentators.
“Yorkshire firms are incredibly resilient and innovative. Many of them have completely changed their business plans to produce goods/services that will help healthcare professionals deal with the pandemic.” Greg Wright, Deputy Business Editor, The Yorkshire Post.
At a time of unparalleled change and challenge for business owners, the strength of community has never been more important. With a year that saw many of us isolated from our usual networks, it’s clear that although technology can offer us many opportunities, there’s a real desire to get back to connecting in person.
“While we have proved we can work from home, it’s also clear that we don’t always want to. Human interaction and the swapping of ideas and experience are crucial to successful working practices and personal satisfaction.” Jonathan Jones, European Managing Partner, Squire Patton Boggs.
Whilst many have found advantages from working home, we’ve seen that for many nothing quite matches up to that face-to-face interaction. As we look towards emergence from the COVID crisis we’re sure to see an increase in hybrid working models with businesses adopting new flexible working approaches.
“People feel there is a missing extra factor that comes from bringing people together and it’s very difficult to achieve when working remotely. Again, it’s that desire for collaboration and shared ideas that they need.” Nick Williams, Professor of Entrepreneurship, University of Leeds.
“There are many people, who were initially lauding the benefits of working from home and saying they were done with office life, who are now saying ‘please let me back in!’ We all want to be part of a team and although tech solutions will continue to play a major role, flexible working environments like Nexus will be key to getting us back into the physical working environment when we can.” Stuart Clarke, Director, Leeds Digital Festival.
Although 2020 was undoubtedly a challenging year in so many ways, Leeds has once again proved itself a powerhouse of collaboration and at Nexus we’re thrilled to be playing our part.
“There are not many places like Nexus in the country. They think big. They take university and business collaboration to another level, catalysing connections to help member businesses develop their innovations and grow their business.” Andy Camenisch, Partner, HGF.
Leeds has an incredible innovation ecosystem and we’ve seen, especially in 2020, that tapping into the region’s rich and abundant support networks could make all the difference for businesses at every stage of their growth and development.
“Collaboration is very Leeds, this seems to have been very important during the pandemic. Businesses have turned to their pre-existing networks and used them to seek advice, share ideas and help each other. It’s hard to quantify, but the importance of place is undeniable. Although Leeds is a big city, it still feels connected.” Nick Williams, Professor of Entrepreneurship, University of Leeds.
“Leeds really is the most collaborative city in the country – people and firms here naturally ask the question: “how can we help?” When I talk to contacts and businesses in Manchester, Birmingham or Newcastle, they’re surprised how competing companies come together for the greater good.” Stuart Clarke, Director, Leeds Digital Festival.
It’s great to see that even during challenging times the sense of community is alive and well across the region with businesses, universities, local government and support networks coming together to build a better tomorrow.
“The region is full of brilliant innovators, but it’s also about the sense of community here, all collaborating to grow their revenues and make the region the best place to work and live.
Yorkshire folk are friendly: we like to help each other out and we’re genuinely caring.” Jem Henderson, Yorkshire Entrepreneur Engagement Manager, Tech Nation.
As we start the New Year it’s important to remember that out of challenge also comes opportunity and throughout 2020 we saw so many of our region’s businesses, across all sectors, investing in innovative business models to embrace the challenges they faced and turn them into opportunities for societal benefit an to help keep our economy alive.
A huge thanks to all our 2020 guest authors and we look forward to sharing more views and insights with you as we look forward to the many bright things ahead in our region’s future.