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Brown: Glasgow Can Be “Economic Superpower”

A MAJOR conference today will set out the case to establish Greater Glasgow’s position as one of the UK’s key economic clusters outside London.

Held jointly by Our Scottish Future and the Glasgow Chambers of Commerce, the conference will hear from former Prime Minister Gordon Brown, CBI director general Tony Danker, Centre for Cities founder Lord Sainsbury and Glasgow city council leader Susan Aitken.

Ahead of the event, Our Scottish Future is publishing fresh analysis of the city economy, setting out both the city region’s huge advantages and the challenges it needs to overcome if it is to prosper.

Today, Mr Brown will tell the conference: “Today’s conference will focus on how we turn the Greater Glasgow region into an economic superpower.”

“There is no doubt it can happen: the people of Glasgow are supremely well equipped to make this city region shine as one of the key economic areas in the UK outside London. We need to focus on those sectors capable of the greatest growth, connect up better with other cities and regions across the UK, and get more power at a local city level to deliver.”

“One key area for growth is the life sciences sector. Glasgow, globally renowned for shipbuilding in the 20th century, can be as successful a world centre for the newest cutting edge advances in medicine in the 21st century – doubling to 75,000 the well paid jobs in the life sciences industry over the coming years.”

Stuart Patrick, chief executive of Glasgow Chambers of Commerce added: “Glasgow is Scotland’s only metropolitan region representing approximately one third of Scotland’s jobs, business base and economic output.”

“As one of only three innovation districts in the UK, and the only in Scotland, Glasgow’s industries across manufacturing, precision medicine, renewable energy, space and industrial biotech are critical to Scotland’s economic success.

“Alongside key projects such as the UCI World Cycling Championships 2023, The Clyde Metro developments and the phase 2 of the Scottish Events Campus, ensuring we maximise economic return, job creation and attracting investment will be a key focus of the business community in the coming years.”

Today’s paper on the city published by Our Scottish Future says it has all the ingredients needed to prosper, including high spending on R+D, world class universities, a high number of graduates, a unique industrial heritage and new ‘anchor’ employers in the financial services sector.

But the report says those strengths are not feeding through to growth – Glasgow’s productivity is lower than other Scottish cities, and it has low rates of patents and start ups too.

The report recommends greater devolution of political power to greater Glasgow, better connectivity to other centres of capital, skills and innovation across the UK and a more focussed economic strategy.

Report author Jamie Gollings remarks: “A city the size of Glasgow will always be a ‘multi-tasker’ but, as it seeks growth, Glasgow also needs to focus on those burgeoning sectors in which it has a competitive advantage.”

“Given these sectors all require massive scale in both financial and human capital beyond just one city, Glasgow needs to forge better networks across the UK, which would allow the city to benefit from much greater access to finance, talent and ideas.”

“Glasgow has the least devolved powers of any comparable city – greater power could get more done more quickly,” he concludes.

Today’s conference will also hear from Clyde Blowers founder Jim McColl, chief Commercial Officer of Strathclyde University Gillian Docherty, programme director for Glasgow City of Science and Innovation Dr Susie Mitchell, and MD for mid-market at Royal Bank of Scotland Judith Cruikshank.

View the report here.

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