When we started our company in 2007, one of the first questions we had to ask ourselves, was where is the best place to be located? The client base for our products and services was international and so our selection did not have to be governed by the location of our clients. The important parameters for us were good travel communications (road, rail and air), a pool of high quality graduates and technical staff to support our planned growth, excellent local universities, an area with a range of different office sizes to accommodate future expansion and importantly a place where staff would be happy to work and live. We selected North Somerset – with staff able to enjoy the countryside and the vibrant cultural cities of Bristol and Bath. We have never regretted the decision, and our relationships with the local Universities, the high-calibre personnel in the area, the technical ecosystem, and the environment have all been key to achieving the success we have enjoyed as a business. The local support that is on offer to innovative companies is pretty phenomenal and this area of the UK is a world leader in incubating tech companies and University spin-outs. The concentration of innovation in this region acts as a catalyst to attract other companies and staff. Thankfully this is recognised as one of the ‘stickiest’ regions for graduates. They come, they enjoy, they stay!
So, what common theme is there for the future that will affect the majority of businesses, especially those that have an ambition to be world leading? The climate emergency is at the forefront of most business, government, local authority, and individual thinking. The greatest impact on reducing our carbon emissions will be driven by government policy and led by business transition and transformation. It is naïve to think that all industries with high carbon emissions can be eliminated through legislation – for example, no country can function without hydrocarbons. However, industry, through innovative practices, products and leadership can change the norm. Key measures of the success of any business will be how much they have reduced their operational carbon footprint, how well they are offsetting any carbon emissions, and how a business can reduce their client’s carbon footprints through their products and services. Products and services that support the green sector and a drive to reduce operational carbon footprints have two significant but indirect benefits; it is easier to secure investment with the right green credentials and those same green credentials are very near to the top of most employee’s values when selecting a company who they want to work for.
As a result of COVID-19, numerous businesses have had their eyes opened as to how technology has allowed innovative ways of working which in itself has indirectly reduced carbon emissions during lockdown. Whilst forced on most companies, it has demonstrated that businesses can operate with significantly reduced travel for meetings – both internal and with clients. It has also demonstrated that the physical location of a business which has a national or international client base is generally not important as far as clients are concerned. The West of England region still provides a great place for people to live, still provides a very supportive innovative tech ecosystem, and the four Universities still provide a pipeline of high quality graduates. The West of England retains a vibe for encouraging innovation and is a great place for people to live. The future is bright and green.