How resilience and talent have helped change the nature of our local economy
BEING born in Dundee during the death throes of the jute industry, I witnessed the final destruction of Dundee’s industrial heritage. These were tough times for the city and I grew up hearing the doomsayers everywhere predicting terminal decline across all sectors of business in the area.
What some of us knew was that Dundee’s resilience and inherent talents would start to shine through, even in this particularly dark period. This began in the 1980s with the rise of life sciences and, at the end of the decade, the games and digital sectors.
During the 1990s strong leadership started to emerge across the city, especially within higher education. Under Sir Alan Langlands and
Bernard King our two universities started to lead the world in life sciences and video games education. Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design led the charge for our creative sectors and were the absolute catalyst for Dundee Contemporary Arts, which was the direct inspiration and antecedent to the V&A Dundee currently crowning the waterfront regeneration project.
This unique mix of technical and creative talent combined with the drive and resilience within the Dundee community has combined to produce an entrepreneurial society which sees huge opportunities to develop digital and creative businesses.
Unlike many Scottish local authorities, Dundee has a fantastic relationship between the commercial, academic, local authority and third sectors.
This has resulted in a “can do” attitude that has achieved so much in such a short period of time. We are not just waiting for success to arrive. Over the past two decades our games industry alone has generated billions of dollars of global revenue through involvement in two of the biggest success stories of all time, Grand Theft Auto and Minecraft.
Our life sciences industry has become the envy of the world and one of Wellcome Trust’s largest scale investments. There are too many great businesses and organisations to list exhaustively but we have certainly arrived.
All the aforementioned means that Dundee is positioned brilliantly for the next explosion of growth. Our own Water’s Edge office and restaurant development opens next month and, I believe, is another significant vote of confidence in our economic renaissance.
In addition my business partner, Paddy Burns, and I have invested in two of the most exciting new companies in the Dundee Digital community, Puny Astronaut in Games and Broker Insights in Insuretech. These examples are absolute proof that the current generation is now heavily betting on the future.
It’s been a long and arduous journey since the demise of our traditional industries. Due to the indigenous and organic nature of our new generation of businesses, I am confident that we are heralding a new era of prosperity in Dundee and one which will positively impact a much wider community than the jute, jam and journalism of the last century.
So am I a proud Dundonian? Absolutely, and I am also a Dundonian who believes that I made a great decision to stay the course and one who sees an ever brighter future ahead in #Sunnydundee.
Due to the indigenous and organic nature of our new generation of business, I am confident that we are heralding a new era of prosperity