To quote the great Bob Dylan, The Times They Are A-Changin’. And I don’t just mean this publication and its recent relaunch. All around us, the world we once knew continues to evolve and flex against the strains of the COVID-19 pandemic. As we end 2020 and look towards a new year, we do so in the knowledge that life and business may well never be quite the same again. It is perhaps fitting then, that the theme of change flows throughout this month’s edition. We look at the pandemic’s effect on our mental health and wellbeing. Taking a lead from Discova’s Lizzy Hodcroft – our cover star who says coronavirus has forced us to recalibrate how we understand ourselves – we look at measures currently in place to provide support and assess the steps being taken to bolster that provision.
2020 has been an incredibly uncertain year for the North East business community. It should therefore come as no surprise that it’s also been challenging for us here at North East Times. Overnight, the coronavirus pandemic turned our business model on its head and as a team we’ve spent the last eight months planning how to right the course and deliver a magazine that is attuned to the different times we find ourselves in. COVID-19 has called for us to reinvent ourselves and reassess our strategy, which is why now, North East Times has a different look, feel and read to the product you’ve come to know.
This month, we look to celebrate one of the region’s strongest sectors – professional services. Our cover star is former lawyer, Lucy Winskell, who was recently appointed to one of the most high-profile non-executive roles in the region – chair of the North East Local Enterprise Partnership. Taking up the reins at this time promises to present a unique set of challenges and Lucy will have to draw on all her experience of economic growth and regeneration – but was full of fighting talk when she spoke to me a few weeks into her tenure.
In direct response to the Prime Minister’s announcement that the solution to the UK’s economic recovery is to “build, build, build” and to ‘build back better’, we decided to bring forward our annual Building the Future issue to September to explore how this strategy will impact the North East. Our cover star this month is Gradon Architecture’s Tanja Smith, who tells North East Times about her truly international career, including two years spent in the Mongolian capital Ulaanbaatar establishing an architectural studio.
Welcome to the Money Issue. For five years, we have been bringing our readers the Money Issue, a special edition of North East Times that reflects the journey of making, growing and sharing wealth.
Usually, we feature a successful businessperson and philanthropist who perfectly personifies this wealth journey. But, mindful of the extraordinary challenges businesses and organisations are currently facing, we decided to do things a little differently this year. Instead of focusing on one person’s story, we’ve split the wealth journey into three core interviews. For the ‘make’ element, we speak to Steve Deutsch, chief executive of the forthcoming Great British Bank. We ask him about the process of setting up a North East-based challenger bank and who it is set to benefit.
Welcome to the health and life sciences issue, the third edition the team has produced remotely from our respective homes. It’s been a challenging period for us all, but I couldn’t be prouder of the dedication and hard work that’s been shown.
Coronavirus continues to wreak havoc across the world and our hearts go out to everyone whose health, livelihoods and families have been affected by this cruel pandemic. Again, we thank all the key workers and frontline staff who continue to work tirelessly to support us through these extremely difficult times. As we start to take our first tentative steps out of lockdown, the full extent of the economic damage caused by coronavirus is revealing itself on an almost daily basis. Every sector has been negatively affected by this pandemic and the recovery effort promises to be epic as we adjust to the ‘new normal’.
This May, North East Times is dedicating its on topic supplement to Sunderland and Wearside. Commercial opportunities are available to complement the independent editorial written by our team of journalists. Ambitious plans to regenerate, develop and grow Sunderland’s economy are well underway.
Led by Sunderland Council, the ten-year city plan is highly focussed on improving growth, prosperity and accelerating job creation. £200 million has been allocated for infrastructure investment alone.
Grade 1 office space at The Beam, the technology hub at Sunderland Software City and IAMP (International Advanced Manufacturing Park) demonstrate the breadth and depth of the determination to improve Sunderland as a place for business. New projects are being planned to enhance the prosperity of the city further.
Welcome to an edition of North East Times that the team and I felt was the only one we could produce at this time – The Disrupted Issue. Our aim was simple; to provide a platform for individuals, companies and organisations to share their news and views that sum up the unprecedented upheaval we’re experiencing as a result of the worst crisis for generations. In the following pages of this issue, you can read about the different ways local businesses and organisations are tackling the pandemic alongside messages from individuals who represent key workers and local communities.
We fully recognise the enormous financial toll coronavirus is making on local businesses and organisations, but we also see how the North East community is rising to the challenge of COVID-19 in some ingenious ways. Most businesses successfully implemented remote working practices immediately after lockdown. Others have pivoted their entire operations to help produce much-needed PPE for the NHS.
It’s safe to say we finished this issue in a world very different from the one we began it in only a few weeks ago. The impact of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, has been as colossal as it has been rapid. My thoughts are with those in the NHS and the other front-line staff who are going above and beyond to keep us as safe and secure as possible. Our April magazine focuses on investment in the North East, something that is set to become more vital in the future. You can read about individuals, businesses and organisations who are investing in our region – bringing jobs, innovation, prosperity and recognition – as well as gaining an insight into the early support and perspectives around the coronavirus outbreak.
Our cover story this month features the Digital Steering Group that has been created to support the delivery of the North East LEP’s Digital for Growth strategy. Though we’re still in the early days of the strategy’s – and the group’s – inception, we ask Laura Partridge, Stuart Lynn, Alison Shaw, Herb Kim, Deni Chambers, Michelle Rainbow, Pete Daykin and Richard Baker how we can best maximise opportunities for digital growth and investment in the region. We also speak to banking expert Craig Iley, founder and director at B-North about a career that has spanned traditional to challenger banking. And we reveal how students at Northumbria University are helping SMEs combat cyber-attacks.
In this issue, we shine a light on the many and diverse ways in which education providers and businesses are combining to address skills gaps in our region. Ahead of National Apprenticeship Week 2020 (February 3-7), we look at how apprenticeships have changed over the years.
Our cover story this month focuses on the rise of North Shoring – the trend of organisations moving some or all of their operations away from the over-heating economy of London. We look at some of the professional services firms that have already chosen to North Shore and explore the opportunities for more to come to the North East. Deb Sharratt also reflects on the role professional qualifications are making to the public relations industry, while Dean Turner and Aidan Dunstan from global investment bank, UBS, make their economic predictions for this year and beyond.