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"As we watch the world turn upside in a short space of time, many have come together for the more vulnerable in our business community.

"Reinforcing the significance, and vital role of a strong ecosystem."

Professor Gary McEwan Elevator CEO

There is no doubt the North East has suffered - and will continue to do so, due to the rising economic uncertainty the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic brings.

In April this year, Gary Gillespie, the Scottish Government’s chief economist, stated that COVID-19 had ‘now become an economic crisis’. Recovery, which was initially anticipated as a 'V-shaped recovery' - a sharp decline followed by a sharp incline - was moving to a 'W-shaped recovery’, meaning an unavoidable second decline.

Yet, as we watch the world turn upside in a short space of time, our local authorities, philanthropists, business leaders and additional support organisations have come together for the more vulnerable in our business community. Reinforcing the significance, and vital role of a strong ecosystem.  

Ecosystem is a term that the many are familiar with. First coined in the 1930s by British botanist, Arthur Tansley, it was used to refer to a local ‘community of living organisms interacting with each other and their particular environment of air, water, mineral soil, and other elements’. 

In a business sense, it refers to a network of organisations who collaborate, share and create resources, and co-evolve. Essentially, in times of external disruption as we are experiencing now, they adapt together showing great resilience to support a strong rebirth of the local economy.

While some may argue that resilience is a broad concept, how it is applied to regional and local economic growth raises important questions about the direction of these economies in times of crisis.

In my opinion, Scotland is one of the most populated support ecosystems in Europe. It is rich in its variety and completeness of support. However, it does not always function particularly well and in this respect, Aberdeen - and Dundee for that matter, are unparalleled.  

The root of our ecosystems success has been the collective endeavour between a wide variety of organisations such as Elevator, Business Gateway, the Oil & Gas Technology Centre, Scottish Enterprise, RGU, University of Aberdeen, ONE and many more, to deliver a broad and deep spectrum of support.

Over the past three months the North East’s ecosystem has worked to provide potential opportunities for SMEs and entrepreneurs. Business support has been tailored to allow our local businesses to focus not only on the here and now, but also to help provide the confidence for those within our economy to adopt a forward-thinking mindset to focus on life after the crisis.   

At Elevator, we have collaborated with Michelin, Scottish Enterprise, Scottish Government, Dundee City Council and specialist sector delivery partners to strengthen our accelerator offering, launching our Sustainable Mobility and Low Carbon Innovation Accelerator. Delivered from the world-class Michelin Scotland Innovation Parc we are working to support Scotland’s Net-Zero carbon ambitions. Collectively helping to lead the charge for Scotland’s sustainable mobility and low carbon energy sectors.

COVID-19 is the black swan event of the decade that has taken the world by storm. However, it will be exciting to witness how our ecosystem continues to pull together in supporting not only our start-ups and entrepreneurs, but also the birth of new collaborative relationships.

While no-one knows exactly how our local economy will look post COVID-19, I am confident that the North East is in safe hands. We are a strong group of visionaries ready to rise to the challenge and create a bright future for our region.

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