Gatwick Diamond Initiative Sponsors Challenging Growth Forum
15 June 2016
Over 150 leaders from the public and private sector gathered to discuss opportunities for the Gatwick Diamond economy at the Gatwick Diamond Economic Growth Forum on 9 June 2016.
The annual event, sponsored by the Gatwick Diamond Initiative, brought together representatives of central and local government, universities, colleges and businesses to consider how best to capitalise on the Gatwick airport economy going forward and thus continue to build a strong environment for economic and employment growth.
Keynote presentations were made by Stuart Wingate, CEO of Gatwick Airport Ltd and by Surinder Arora, Founder and Chairman of the Arora Group. Stuart Wingate spoke of the eight pledges Gatwick is prepared to make in the event of a Government decision in favour of a second runway this summer, including an undertaking that the new runway will be operational by 2025 with planning consent granted within this Parliament. Surinder Arora set out his company’s exciting plans for the regeneration of Crawley Railway Station which will transform the area into an attractive and safe environment, reflecting the town’s opportunities as a vibrant place to live and work.
Several panel sessions took place focusing upon the digital economy from a variety of perspectives, including the gap between the leading edge of technology and social change. Panellists challenged policy makers to consider the importance of developing the skills that growing businesses need and to address the gender gap in the technology sector.
Jeff Alexander, Executive Director of the Gatwick Diamond Initiative, said the keynote contributions and the discussion that they stimulated underlined the importance of the £22.3 billion Gatwick Diamond economy.
He commented: “The Gatwick Diamond is home to more than 45,000 businesses, including a growing digital technologies sector, which, as well as being important in its own right, underpins innovation and growth in other key Gatwick Diamond sectors including advanced manufacturing, life sciences and medical technologies.”
He continued: “At the event, we have heard about the importance of building the skills base so that digital technology businesses have the talent they need to prosper and grow. In particular, we heard from the Tech Partnership that nationally just 16% of technology professionals are women. This is unacceptable and represents huge untapped potential which risks holding back the development of the sector and our economy more generally. “
Summarising, Jeff Alexander added: “Businesses and education providers at the Forum expressed commitment to rise to the challenge. As a cross-sector economic partnership, the Gatwick Diamond Initiative is well-placed to support a joined up approach that builds on the enthusiasm generated by the Forum.”