With potentially any form of Brexit threatening to put Glasgow at a serious economic disadvantage in the weeks and months ahead, a new Global Glasgow steering group has been convened from across the city’s public, private, voluntary and academic sectors to coordinate a collective response to selling Glasgow to the world.
Chaired by the leader of the Glasgow City Council, Councillor Susan Aitken, the group – which met for the first time last week and will come together quarterly – comprises senior figures from a mix of city organisations with strong international networks and expertise.
It has been tasked with creating a strategic action plan that supports sustainable and inclusive economic growth in the city and profiles Glasgow’s global reputation – as a great place to visit, study, live, work and do business – in a consistent and aspirational way.
The Global Glasgow group is made up of Glasgow City Council; Glasgow Life; Glasgow Chamber of Commerce; Glasgow, Strathclyde and Glasgow Caledonian universities; Glasgow Airport; the Scottish Event Campus (SEC); Glasgow City of Science and Innovation; City of Glasgow College; the Glasgow School of Art; the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and Scottish Power among others.
In addition, the group will contribute to the development of Glasgow City Council’s new International Strategy, which will ensure the city continues to collaborate and strengthen its relationships with key European and international cities.
As Scotland’s economic and cultural powerhouse, Glasgow is home to the largest cultural offer, the largest sporting infrastructure and the largest retail centre in the UK outside London. The city is also recognised as having the UK’s best Convention Bureau, responsible for securing major domestic and international conference business; is a top five city for global sporting events and, in the SSE Hydro, has the busiest entertainment arena of its size in the world.
Glasgow currently attracts just over two million tourists each year, spending more than £700m, while some 20 million day visitors contribute approximately £1bn to the local economy on an annual basis.
As of 2018, Glasgow’s financial sector is now among the top 15 most reputable in Europe with a sectoral reputation that indexes higher than that of several more established and larger European business hubs and capitals, such as Vienna, Madrid, Brussels and Milan.
Glasgow also currently has the second best foreign direct investment (FDI) strategy among large European cities (with a metropolitan population greater than two million) and rates among Europe’s top 10 cities for overall business friendliness.
The council, together with Glasgow Chamber of Commerce and Glasgow Airport, recently commissioned a study by leading urbanist and global advisor Professor Greg Clarke which reinforced Glasgow’s encouraging starting position.
However, it also highlighted a need for a new and stronger narrative which better promotes the scale and success of the city’s business brand across international markets.
Glasgow’s jobs base and economy are growing at above average rates and the city has a reputation as a leader in high-tech sectors including life sciences, low carbon and advanced manufacturing.
Plans for a series of new Innovation Districts and new policies focussed on strengthening entrepreneurship will also help the city cement its position as an emerging innovation hub. Over the past five years, Glasgow has consistently ranked in the top 20 of the most innovative cities in the world and places 4th in the UK.
Councillor Susan Aitken, Glasgow City Council leader, said: “Just this week Glasgow was named one of the world’s top 10 cities by Time Out magazine, with particular mentions of our people, our creative sector and our hospitality.
“From sport, arts, culture and nightlife to the unique character of our citizens, the world knows that something is happening in Glasgow.
“But we also know we continue to struggle to tell the story of our business brand, dynamic economy and record of innovation; all of which are vital elements of a new Glasgow narrative and attributes with which our global peers are increasingly measured by.
“We need to know the story we want to tell and then tell it together, loudly and often. Our new Global Glasgow partnership will help write that story and ensure the world knows that Glasgow remains international, dynamic, open and welcoming.”
Dr Susie Mitchell, Glasgow City of Science and Innovation programme director, said: “The Glasgow City of Science and Innovation partnership is delighted to work alongside city partners to build an ambitious International Strategy that strengthens Glasgow’s global educational, cultural and economic links to develop a progressive, inclusive economy that meets the needs of citizens.
“The strategy provides a unique opportunity to attract new international collaborators, talent and investment opportunities to leverage and internationalise our rich science and innovation base to maintain competitive advantage in key growth areas.
“Home to one of the most dynamic and diverse innovation economies in Europe – from precision medicine and advanced manufacturing to quantum science, low carbon tech and social innovation – the Glasgow city region is perfectly placed to provide global leadership on tackling the biggest industrial and societal challenges of our time, and turn them into innovation-driven growth opportunities.”
Stuart Patrick, Glasgow City of Science and Innovation chair and Glasgow Chamber of Commerce chief executive, said: “For obvious reasons this is a very pertinent time for the city to be reaching out internationally and so we welcome the establishment of the Global Glasgow group.
“International trade is something which is second nature to all Chambers of Commerce, and in the specific case of Glasgow Chamber it was the reason for our founding in the late 18th century. We are very keen to contribute through the expansion of global networks to promote trade and investment.”