In this series we ask key spokespeople from across the region and from our core sectors to share their insights.
This time, we spoke to European Managing Partner, Jonathan Jones from Squire Patton Boggs. Global law firm, Squire Patton Boggs, is one of Nexus’ most recent professional services partners who offer a range of legal support and services to Nexus members.
What are your predictions for Leeds and City Region as we emerge from the COVID crisis and get back to business?
As we start to emerge from the immediate day-to-day concerns of operating during the COVID-19 crisis and adapt to the new ways of working, in particular the difficulties of maintaining safe social distancing, I can see benefits for the Leeds City Region and other business centres outside London.
Travel to London for meetings that can be conducted online is likely to be complex and unattractive well into 2021 and I think there are opportunities for businesses based elsewhere to capitalise on work that they can do more cost-effectively than their peers in London.
We have all rigorously tested the technology we had in place before the crisis. We thought it would work – and it does – making it largely unimportant where the work is done. The person on the receiving end of the advice or service doesn’t mind if their advisor is in their home office in Leeds if the work is delivered in the right way. This change was already in evidence before the pandemic, but it has accelerated the results by five years in as many months.
What role do you think innovation hubs like Nexus have to play in the revival/growth of the regional economy?
While we have proved we can work from home, it is 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. A hub like Nexus gives members access to invaluable shared resources such as benchmarking thinking and learning from other colleagues and contacts. No one has a monopoly on good ideas and a community like Nexus brings together innovators from many sectors and disciplines and gives them the opportunity to collaborate and share ideas, experience and lessons learned.
What role do innovation-led businesses have in the revival/growth of the regional economy?
I like to think of Nexus as a greenhouse: it has created the ideal conditions for businesses to germinate and grow.
My hope is that innovation-led businesses that get off to a great start at Nexus and other innovation centres will go on to flourish as the next generation of successful regional businesses bringing important employment and investment to the region. In time, these will be the companies that secure private equity funding, float on the stock exchange and raise the profile of the regional economy further.
What key guidance are you offering to innovation-led businesses/start-ups?
It’s really important to get the foundations right, to do things like minutes, shareholders’ agreements and documentation properly, so that your business is set up in the right way and the structures are in place to support the acceleration and growth you’re aiming for. Later, when you’re looking to secure funding or perhaps even to float or sell the business, due diligence will be much simpler if you have adhered to the proper processes.
At the moment, there’s a risk that this might be overlooked as businesses take tough decisions to conserve cash. My advice is that this is not the area to cut corners. Good advisors can help you find the shortest and most cost-effective route from A to B. They have a breadth of experience, born of helping other businesses through the same things you’re dealing with and they can help you avoid the pitfalls.
You might be thinking ‘he would say that wouldn’t he’, but I firmly believe that you can learn from the experience of others and investing in professional services now is a wise move.
Find out the latest information to help guide you through the advice and support schemes available in response to COVID-19 on our hub, including resources from Squire Patton Boggs.