How re­silience and tal­ent have helped change the na­ture of our lo­cal econ­omy

The Herald - - SPECIAL REPORT - Chris van der Kuyl is chair­man at 4J Stu­dios, TV Squared, Bro­ker In­sights, Puny As­tro­naut and En­tre­pre­neur­ial Scot­land. CHRIS VAN DER KUYL

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

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