Bright Spark Q&A – Brian Archer

Brian Archer, managing director at Business Durham

What led you into your chosen career?

Changing lives, making a difference, doing what I love and getting wiser on the journey.

Who or what has made the greatest impression on your career?

Caroline Owens, a psychotherapist and author of If You Fall Run On. It is a true story about life lessons and a search for meaning set in Northern Ireland at the height of the troubles, and how family life is affected by a father’s mental illness. It’s an inspirational story.

What does your organisation do and how is it making an impact?

Business Durham is the economic development organisation for County Durham, working on behalf of Durham County Council. We help businesses relocate, grow and thrive in County Durham. We help them gain access to funds and finance; open up links to the thriving North East supply chain; connect them with the right advice they need; source property and deliver specialist innovation and scale up support. We also run our innovative Finance Durham Fund – which will support up to 70 companies in the county in its first ten years with investments ranging from £10,000 to up to £2 million.

Briefly, what does a typical working day comprise for you?

I like an early start to clear and action the daily email avalanche before briefing the leadership team on the priorities for the coming week and achievements last week. I persuade everyone to think like a customer. I report to the board progress against strategy and plans, meet a large international business and explain why they should relocate to County Durham and I attend a business network event to seek views from County Durham businesses to ensure that we are doing everything we can to help them start up grow and prosper. I host a meeting with Durham University physics PHD students at NETPark to encourage them to stay and work in County Durham’s thriving technology business cluster. I then attend a conference on innovation with the UK Space Agency.

What are Business Durham’s short and long-term aims?

Our short-term aims include attracting and retaining the very best people, building on our strengths by investing in people, process and technology, protect and grow our £30m property portfolio and rental yield, and maximising the opportunities for EU funding before the door closes.

Our long-term aims are to see our £20m Finance Durham venture capital fund support some big winners and attract major inward investment to the region to help deliver jobs and economic growth in the region.
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