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Northampton College Advanced Engineering Centre

Long term thinking in uncertain times

28 January 2019

Business planning for the long term amidst political turmoil is never going to be an easy ride. In today’s economic climate there are many known unknowns.  Some small business owners have chosen to just wait and see what happens, while others have assessed risks and are taking immediate actions to mitigate against scenarios.  With Brexit negotiations unresolved, it’s likely that business will face this situation for some time. That is known.

Focusing on how we put our businesses – our area’s wealth creators - on the best possible footing for the long term, therefore, is precisely what we can and need to do.

A tool to help this is the development of the area’s Local Industrial Strategy, being prepared by the South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership, SEMLEP. This will be a long-term plan to set priorities and enhance collaboration to reinforce the area’s economic position for the future. It aims to prepare our businesses for future global market conditions, by steering investment into infrastructure businesses say they need to enhance their specialisms and expertise and, help them pursue growth. The strategy focuses on boosting productivity, earning power and competitiveness.

Our area approaches this from a position of strength. Whilst we have challenges, our regional economy is resilient. We have some of the highest levels of entrepreneurialism in the country, the highest level of business innovation in the country, a highly skilled workforce and specialisms in fast-growing, innovative industries that continue to attract investors and global businesses. And crucially we have a culture of collaboration.

Using the Local Industrial Strategy, the focus on investing in the area’s bespoke business assets and supporting our businesses more generally to grow and create high-quality good jobs intensifies.

There are several long-term, exciting developments in the pipeline that do just that. Such as:

  • plans for a new university in Milton Keynes ‘MK:U’ that will shape courses to meet the demands of high-tech businesses in the area
  • proposals for an Institute of Digital Technology at Bletchley Park
  • a new Digital Aviation Research and Technology Centre at Cranfield University that will spearhead the UK’s research into digital aviation technology 
  • 5G infrastructure and transport network testing at Millbrook Proving Ground, Central Bedfordshire to support next-generation vehicles and
  • further manufacturing proposals to bring together innovation from automotive, engineering and digital businesses to create new products and services

SEMLEP is working with businesses, universities, local councils, sector and business representative organisations as well as a range of specialist agencies and the government to finalise the South East Midlands Local Industrial Strategy. The final Strategy will be published by the government in early Summer 2019. You can find out more about the emerging themes and proposed actions on the SEMLEP website: .  We also encourage views on the priorities. To do this, you can email

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