The UK Government’s Minister for Exports has called for the Humber region to build trade globally and showcase its capabilities during Covid-19.
Speaking at Tech Week Humber 2020’s virtual launch event, Graham Stuart, who is also the MP for Beverley and Holderness, said that the Humber region could do more to promote its “phenomenal offering of institutions, companies and startups”.
He said: “My personal attitude as a local MP is that for too long the [Humber] region has underplayed itself – it has almost been shroud waving. It is really important that we reach out globally to promote our technology and share it with the world.
“Building trade is going to be absolutely essential to overcome the economic challenge posed by the Covid pandemic. We have fantastic infrastructure, great institutions and space, so going forward we have to throw our shroud waving away and look at the economic opportunities. We must unleash the entrepreneurial talent of the local people.”
The MP praised the Humber region for its “strong regional R&D focus and ambition to enhance digital skills”. He said that companies in the region have successfully worked with partners internationally to export mixed reality and cloud tech solutions to a global audience.
Stuart highlighted the Humber region’s strengths in tech sub-sectors including the Internet of Things, smart cities and immersive technologies. Infrastructure projects like the transformation of Hull’s Castle Street, one of the city’s busiest roads, will add to its “fantastic infrastructure”, he added.
The minister pledged to champion the reopening of the Beverley to York Railway line, a move that he said would improve connectivity while making York and Hull part of the same economic area and could make talented workers less inclined to move elsewhere.
Responsibility to help
Stuart said that the UK Government has a responsibility to help British firms embrace the “huge” export opportunities presented by the pandemic while removing barriers to trading globally.
He said: “Last year we as a nation overtook France to be the fifth-largest exporter in the world at a time of rising trade tensions. We were able to grow our exports whereas none of the other 10 leading experts and countries in the world were able to do so in 2019. It’s why we’re putting so much effort into negotiating free trade agreements with nations around the world.”
In June the Secretary of State Liz Truss announced the Future Trade Strategy, which aims to boost digital trade in the UK by increasing tech exports to fast-growing international markets – including Asia-Pacific – while strengthening scaleups’ market readiness to export.
Last month the Government launched the Export Growth Plan with an internationalisation fund for SMEs in England. The fund dedicated £38m to covering the costs of companies growing or starting their export journey.
More than 2,000 people attended the inaugural Tech Expo Humber in 2019 over two days. The event returned in 2020 as the flagship event for Tech Expo Humber, a week-long online festival themed around infrastructure, connecting education and enterprise, and showcasing the region to the world.