Ancient & Modern

At the time of writing cities and communities across the country are grappling with how best to manage their response to the Coronavirus pandemic, how to balance public health with the need to restart their economies, and to protect lives AND livelihoods.  This has had particular resonance in York, where the tourism and visitor economy makes up such a large part of the economic lifeblood of the historic city and those sectors, and the supply chains inextricably linked with them, have almost certainly suffered the hardest blow from the continuing “lockdown.”

However, perhaps slightly “below the radar,” another group of businesses have been establishing themselves in York over the past 10 years or so, and now it seems those businesses could help to form the foundations of an exciting period of recovery, opportunity, growth and rebalancing of the city’s economy. The city is now home to a number of nationally and internationally significant technology companies, such as Piksel, Anaplan, Mood, Netsells, Revolution and others.

Added to that, York is also rightly proud of its educational establishments and their knowledge base, two successful universities, a thriving FE college at the heart of a recently established Institute of Technology consortium, an agricultural college championing the latest advances and practices in farming and land management, and the FERA campus carrying out world leading research on food production and sustainable technologies.

Researchers in the city are working on projects at the leading edge of robotics and AI, Augmented & Virtual Reality technology and sustainable energy, food and healthcare provision.  The hard-won UNESCO City of Media Arts designation reflects the innovation that is being created in that sector too.

The new Vice Chancellor of the University of York, Professor Charlie Jeffery, is passionate about the role of universities in working within their communities to help foster and create an “ecosystem” where innovation and technology can thrive and grow, and he knows what he’s talking about. He was part of a group of city leaders who achieved great success doing exactly that in Edinburgh in his last role with the university there.

As a lawyer with a great interest (both commercially and generally!) in Intellectual Property and the value that knowledge and innovation can generate, I am personally tremendously excited about the opportunity that York has, as the city looks to recover its economy, to nurture and promote the innovation and enterprise that are already established here so that they can in turn grow the sort of “innovation ecosystem” that Professor Jeffery speaks about. This in turn could help York to rebalance its economy with well paid, high-skilled, high-productivity jobs based on the availability of some of the best and most relevant education and training available.

York will always of course be proud of its history and will delight in welcoming visitors and tourists here to enjoy it with us, but I am hopeful that part of the forthcoming economic recovery exercise will be one which sees the city looking resolutely to the future, and to building on strengths that will help to sustain it for centuries to come.

Posted on: 05/06/2020

This article is for general guidance only. It provides useful information in a concise form. Action should not be taken without obtaining specific legal advice.

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