In that well known coffee table favourite, Society and Economy in Modern Britain 1700-1850, Richard Brown wrote:
“Aberdeen had a number of striking characteristics one of which was its economic resilience based on the adaptability of business leaders who found new means of investment and employment when old ones faded”.
This remains as true today as when it was written 170 years ago.
A small city region in the North-east corner of Scotland, Aberdeen has exerted its influence right around the planet with a long and proud tradition of invention and discovery. From subsea technology to the discovery of insulin. From the first MRI scanner to treatments for Cystic Fibrosis. Aberdonian inventor and energy pioneer Robert Davidson built the world’s first known electric locomotive here in 1837. And Robert Thomson, from Stonehaven, was the acknowledged inventor of the fountain pen and original inventor of the pneumatic tyre.
All of this and much more demonstrates that innovation is a fundamental element of our region’s DNA.
And our progressive nature is embodied no better than Britain’s oldest registered company Aberdeen Harbour Board, which nearly 900 years after its formation, is investing £350 million in an ambitious expansion programme that is one of the largest marine infrastructure projects in the UK for many decades. When it opens next year, it will provide direct to quayside access for some of the largest ocean-going vessels on the planet and underpin the region’s plans to transition from being Europe’s oil & gas capital to a globally significant low carbon energy hub.
A thirst for knowledge and a passion for science and engineering has underpinned our city region’s industry for decades and Aberdeen’s two highly successful universities continue to be at the heart of this. Supporting research and innovation, providing talent to support local business in energy, life sciences, architecture, engineering, medicine, health and the creative industries. And they have produced entrepreneurs, world business leaders, Nobel prize winners and award winning scientists, writers and industrialists.
And today we have Europe’s largest single-site health campus at Foresterhill where groundbreaking research into cures for contemporary diseases is saving lives.
We can boast a highly qualified workforce, with over 50% educated to degree level or over, the fourth highest in the UK. And more patents are filed here per capita than anywhere else in Scotland and this region is in the UK top five.
Our entrepreneurial spirit and wider business eco-system makes the North-east of Scotland the best location in the UK to start a business, boasting the best five-year survival rate for new companies supported by organisations such as Elevator, Opportunity North East and the Net Zero Technology Centre.
As you read this, we’ll either be hurtling towards Christmas or perhaps already into another new year. And so, I’d like to propose a toast and make a collective resolution by updating a famous quote from Burns. Here’s tae us! Wha’s like us? Gey few, but they’re NOT a’ deid!
No, the innovative Aberdeen spirit is alive and well and we have it in our hands to channel it to be at the vanguard of the economic recovery following the crippling combination of the B-word (Brexit) and the C-word (Covid).
And we need to do everything in our power to ensure our young people are given the inspiration and opportunity to carry on our proud traditions.
In 2022, the Chamber resolves to continue supporting our members to do better business while helping create the economic conditions that will enable the future success of our region.