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Elizabeth Vega has been announced as the North West’s local champion 2017. Founder and Global CEO of Informed Solutions, Elizabeth is a highly experienced Board director and digital transformation expert. A passionate supporter of the Northern Powerhouse, member of the 2017 Northern Power Women list and DIT North West Export Champion, she is a supporter and national role model for Women in IT.
It came as no surprise to any of us who live and work in Greater Manchester that the response from our community to the bombing atrocity at the MEN Arena was one of courage, unity and solidarity. How fitting also that the humble worker bee, the symbol of Manchester for over 150 years, should rise again and become so prominent in the outpouring of genuine emotion; not simply of grief, but of dignity, defiance and the recognition that life is precious and that we are people who will not be beaten.
The bee emblem was adopted during the industrial revolution to represent the hard work of Mancunians, where textile mills developed innovative, high productivity technologies and were frequently described as hives of activity. It came to symbolise industriousness, business, perseverance and teamwork, the very qualities that define modern Manchester and make it the focus of our City region and the beating heart of the Northern Powerhouse.
Such qualities were recognised in an independent study undertaken by leading property consultants Collier International, where Manchester was named as the world’s third most influential city, while collectively the North West proudly boasts a larger economy than those of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland combined.
The relocation of the BBC to Media City in Salford reinforces the region’s influence as Digital Leaders both nationally and globally and makes it a truly great place for Digital and leading edge ICT companies like Informed Solutions to do business. In 2016, Manchester, not for the first time, topped the UK league tables in attracting the most foreign direct investment (FDI) projects outside of London.
It wasn’t, of course, by chance that when I established my own company twenty five years ago, I chose to locate our headquarters in Manchester. As a leading centre for industry, commerce and academe, with second to none national and international transport links and access to the largest talent pool of graduates in Europe, it was an obvious choice. The passage of time has reaffirmed that decision, as the economy continues to grow and devolution now promises to give us even more tools to further boost this potential.
I am delighted that newly elected Mayor Andy Burnham is firmly committed to establishing Greater Manchester as the UK’s Digital Leader by “harnessing the power of technology” to ignite a new “digital revolution”. Emma Degg, Chief Executive of the North West Business Leadership Team also argues that “strong city regions are the way to deliver real and tangible solutions to economic growth”.
Both of these leaders recognise that the innovation and entrepreneurialism of local business leaders are the keys to unlocking the nation’s future success post-Brexit. We are deeply saddened by the tragedy and unfathomable pain inflicted by the recent bombing but I’m also uplifted by the knowledge that the courage, compassion, fortitude and resilience of Manchester people will sustain and lead the region to a stronger future. That journey is unstoppable, and there is simply no better place to Bee than Manchester.