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22.9.08

Ian's inside view on Insider

Many happy returns to Yorkshire Business Insider – which is 10 year’s old this month. Current editor Peter Baber, who is sadly leaving to enter the work of corporate recruitment asked me to write a retrospective as back in the day, I was launch editor of Insider which has since emerged as one of the business stalwarts of the Yorkshire business scene.
Here it is what I had to say for himself:


Going back to your old school is always a salutary experience.
It serves to emphasise how much has changed and how little has changed. Yes, we might be a bit thicker around the waist, thinner around the hair line and prone to make involuntary noises when we bend over but we are all still pretty much the same.
It’s ten years now since I had the privilege of editing the first issue of Yorkshire Business Insider and looking back at how the region’s business scene has changed during that period one struggles to identify any defining moment. And the telescope of time offers a different prospect and perspective to the one you might imagine.
True, when Insider first launched Yorkshire had the biggest number of companies listed Stock Market after London and the south-east. Many of those businesses were taken to market during the 1980s by a new breed of uber corporate financiers in the region. Today, after the flight from public to private during the 1990s, there are 75 companies, the bulk of them listed on the smaller Alternative Investment Market.
Many of those companies that are no longer listed on the stock market still exist albeit in the portfolio of a private equity fund or as part of a larger group, probably foreign owned. Incidentally it was probably the same lawyers, accountants and brokers who advised on the reversal out of the Stock Market, with consummate fees, one presumes.
Old industries have disappeared – does anyone still make shoddy in Yorkshire? And new industries have emerged – don’t forget the origins of the commercial internet where in Leeds with Freeserve and Planet.
But then some things get bigger while others diminish. Back in 1998, the year Britain was introduced to Viagra, Furbies and Pok√©mon, the Yorkshire and Humber economy was valued at £55bn. Since then the region’s Gross Domestic Product has risen to £80bn. But then all things are relative – the North-West economy is worth £109bn.
All this has happened under a Labour Government, so the Noughties have been pretty good to Yorkshire so far – Leeds, Sheffield and York have thrived. Hull and Bradford less so. By and large John Prescott’s Regional Development Agencies have delivered.
As Chancellor Gordon Brown laid down two strict fiscal rules. The Golden Rule that over the economic cycle, the Government would only borrow to invest and not to fund current spending and the Sustainable Investment Rule which dictated that net public debt as a proportion of GDP will be held over the economic cycle at a stable and prudent level.
Now, after ten years those rules are looking a bit shaky. The world credit crunch, dodgy deals by some of the UK’s biggest financial houses and declining GDP in all of the world’s developed countries are beginning to have an impact.
And Yorkshire is not immune – as a region we are still a major exporter operating in a truly global economy. It used to be the case that when the US sneezed the UK caught a cold. Now decisions made in Shanghai or Delhi or Moscow have a direct impact on the region’s economic well being.
However, Yorkshire and its business people continue to have a sense of purpose and there is still a tradition for entrepreneurialism – a legacy of the Victorian industrial inventiveness and Yorkshire cussedness. I am often puzzled when commentators suggest that the region is poor at developing home-grown entrepreneurs but our track record is rather good as illustrated by Insider 42 Under 42 feature which annually highlights the entrepreneurial talent of the future.
No doubt the next 18 months are going to be tough and as the region begins to find its stride in the 21st Century there is much to reflect on but it is important to remember that the Broad Acres of Yorkshire has never been one for relying on past glories and has always been conscious of the dangers of becoming complacent and self-satisfied.
The region has emerged, as Insider has chronicled over the past decade, as a place which still welcomes and fosters new entrepreneurial talent whilst understanding that the crucial driver of progress is innovations and change.
It is significant that when the then Newsco Managing Director Nick Jaspan decided to launch a second Insider (the first was based in the north-west) the only viable region which we believed could support a monthly business title was Yorkshire. Nick is now running How-Do which I highly recommend.
With its intelligent readership, depth of businesses from professional services to steel manufacturers, Yorkshire emerged as the only viable option to support a publication like Insider. Indeed, when the Yorkshire Post launched a so-called spoiler monthly business glossy aimed at shutting us down we remained unconcerned.
Insider has now been in the hands of five different editors and continues to go on from strength to strength. I will always take an interest Insider, in spite of the fact that many of the people I knew there have now moved on.
And at a time when regional newspaper journalism is in decline with circulation falling across the board and jobs under threat it is heartening that Insider’s future looks assured for the next ten year.
It’s a real asset to Yorkshire business.

16.9.08

Next Bradford OpenCoffee

Following the success of bmedi@’s previous OpenCoffee events, we are running another event on Thursday, October 16.
The emphasis of OpenCoffee is very much on the internet and new media industries. The free events are informal and see a range of technology entrepreneurs, designers, bloggers, developers, geeks, investors and anyone else who's interested in digital media and technology exchanging ideas and striking up relationships that would otherwise never have flourished.
The philosophy of OpenCoffee is very much of an Open House of ideas and people.
OpenCoffee Bradford(Shipley), is being sponsored by the YoYo Bar & Restaurant as well as hosting the event here.
The event is open to anyone who is interested in the region's digital, creative and new media industries. You're welcome to enjoy the coffee, the cakes and the company :) To book e-mail steve@bmedia.org.uk or register at Upcoming here.