Liz McAreavey: Edinburgh is bursting with creative spirit

With 2017 just around the corner it is time to take stock and learn lessons from a highly unpredictable 2016.

Wednesday, 21st December 2016, 9:00 am
Updated Thursday, 29th December 2016, 1:57 pm
Edinburgh's heritage provides a backdrop of beauty and culture which contributes to the fabric of the city. Picture: Scott Taylor

As a city we have many goals and ambitions, but I imagine our resolution is to focus more on building on Edinburgh’s “essence” than meeting targets. We are often driven by facts and data, but recognising the importance of imagination and culture can differentiate us and ensure Edinburgh’s future is always aligned with its heritage.

First, we must set a vision for the city that blends new with old, respecting and protecting our heritage but ensuring we are a modern, digital and smart city.

Then we need to invest in our creative and cultural wellbeing. Third, support and encourage innovation and enterprise through collaboration between education, business, arts and public sector.

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Edinburgh was recently recognised as the UK’s Best Entrepreneurial City of the Year for its access to skills, its ability to attract talented individuals by providing high quality of life and for its start-up and entrepreneurial culture, and access to valuable support networks. It was also ranked third in the “Good Growth for Cities Report”, PwC’s index of economic wellbeing in UK cities, and voted European Business Magazine’s “best city to locate your technology enterprise”.

These recent announcements put the city in a strong position. With work under way building on our relationships across the globe, Edinburgh needs to make sure it supports the services and businesses required to successfully trade internationally.

The opportunity on our doorstep is colossal and there is a real sense of change, heightened no less by the prospect of a City Deal and the new City Vision framework being developed.

Yet, as the Vision takes shape and we refine the proposal for the City Region Deal we should be aware of our heritage of beauty and creative thinking. With the New Year close and resolutions to be made, the business community should perhaps take a step back to consider how creative thinking and innovation can benefit growth.

Enterprise and innovation are in abundance with many new businesses starting up around creative ideas. Our heritage provides a backdrop of beauty and culture which contributes to the fabric of our city. It provides nourishment to its citizens, feeds technological advancement, new business ideas and a drive to innovate and look for new ways of doing things.

As Einstein put it, ‘knowledge is great, imagination is greater’, and Edinburgh is bursting with entrepreneurial and creative spirit.

On behalf of the Edinburgh Chamber, have a merry Christmas and prosperous New Year!

Liz McAreavey is chief executive of Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce