Creating a new Innovation Centre for start-ups, driving sustainability, and building world-class infrastructure that promotes civic pride are among the key tenets of a new vision for Jersey laid out by the island’s top business minds.
The vision is mapped out in a report entitled ‘New Perspectives – Critical Considerations for Sustainable Economic Growth’ published yesterday by the Economic Council.
The 16-strong group of community and business representatives from a range of sectors, which is chaired by Economic Development Minister Senator Lyndon Farnham, was set up in June to come up with short and long-term ideas to stimulate the island’s recovery from the covid crisis.
Chamber of Commerce President Jennifer Carnegie, IoD Chair Lisa Springate, Durrell CEO Lesley Dickie, ArtHouse Jersey Chair Philip Hewat-Jaboor, Visit Jersey NED Kevin Keen, Carey Olsen Group Managing Partner Alex Ohlsson, and Tony Taylor of Jersey Sport, Jersey Dairy and Jersey Electricity were among those invited to join the panel.
Minister for International Development Carolyn Labey, who has responsibility for the island's international reputation and public realm, is also a permanent member.
The document lays out the opportunities that the island should seize on in a series of essays focused on five themes:
Express will be publishing each of those essays, in full, each weekday from tomorrow.
While the report is intended as a high-level vision, some of the few concrete proposals it suggests are funding for re-skilling local talent, the development of an international marketing communications programme "to promote the infrastructure and sectoral capabilities to attract appropriate entrepreneurs to the island", and the creation of a Jersey Innovation Centre.
The Innovation Centre, the report says, should "act as a beacon for start-ups and scale-up opportunities, providing enabling commercialisation skills and resources." It continues: "There are many examples that work elsewhere including the Sussex Innovation Centre, where all members are involved in developing new ideas to create a dynamic and vibrant community of entrepreneurs, technologists, creative designers and scientists. Some of the most exciting new projects result from the transfer of ideas across different sectors."
Pictured: The Economic Council hope the report will help steer the direction of Government.
The Council’s hope is that the document will feed into Ministers’ thinking when developing any short-term policies by ensuring that they are future-focused.
They also hope that the vision will provide a level of continuity after the next election by helping steer the direction of the future Government.
The report has already been shared with Institute of Directors members and other business colleagues, but the Council say they hope their report will spark “fresh debate” in the wider island community about their wishes for the island’s future.
In their report, the Council suggests that it should have an ongoing relationship with Government to provide it with an “ongoing source of challenge and guidance”, though it’s not yet clear how that future relationship will work.
Spokesperson for the Council, Tony Taylor, commented: “At a time when there is huge focus on major short-term issues, New Perspectives addresses Jersey’s long-term economic prosperity. In publishing this paper, the Economic Council’s ambition is to provide fresh perspectives on a number of critical themes that are affecting economies worldwide, regardless of covid-19, with specific focus on the opportunities and challenges these represent for Jersey.”
He added: “Our purpose is to focus attention on Jersey’s future prosperity over the next decade and beyond. This work should ultimately benefit all Islanders, particularly future generations, by helping to nurture a thriving economy, with strong and diverse employment prospects and an ability for the Island to afford the first-rate public services and facilities it craves.”
Economic Development Minister Senator Lyndon Farnham said the document largely aligned with many of the priorities underpinning the existing Government Plan, but would help focus minds on the key issue of reversing the downward slope of Jersey’s productivity levels – the problem of which has puzzled successive Governments.
Pictured: One of the Government's key aspirations should be to help boost productivity.
Much of that, he said, would be linked with upskilling the population, citing the Digital Jersey Academy as a good example of this.
Welcoming the plan’s publication, he said: “We’re incredibly grateful to the voluntary, independent members of the Economic Council for producing this paper, which contains an inspiring vision for our economy and some very helpful advice and challenge to the Government. In addition to nurturing our existing industries we need to achieve higher levels of innovation. The Economic Council also provided us with valuable input during our early covid-19 response planning and into the new Government Plan, so this has proved to be a highly worthwhile initiative.”
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