Bradford needs investment in infrastructure to accelerate economic growth

Before entering politics, Imran Khan was one of the greatest cricket stars to emerge from the subcontinent.  When the celebrity was sworn in as Prime Minister of Pakistan last summer, the BBC told viewers that it was equivalent to David Beckham moving into Number 10.

Mr Khan rose to power on a ticket of fighting corruption, attacking inequality and ensuring a fair wicket through the rule of law. Like any world leader in 2019, he is facing a number of domestic and international challenges, but there is no doubt that Pakistan, with its accelerating economy and youthful population of 207m people, has enormous potential.

Mr Khan is keen to build bridges with friendly allies and this presents Bradford, as a globally connected district, with tremendous opportunities for increased trade. He has deep links with our district, having served as chancellor of the University of Bradford for nearly a decade. When Mr Khan stepped down in 2014 citing increasing political commitments, student union leaders described him as “an instrumental figurehead for the university and the city, and his work in politics and humanitarian work is a big inspiration”.

A delegation from Yorkshire, led by the University of Bradford, visited Pakistan this February to create new partnerships between the nation and the district. The university was a key partner of the Lahore Literature Festival, billed as the premier free-to-public cultural event in the provincial capital. Professor Brian Cantor, the vice chancellor, delivered the speech Making Knowledge Work on the role that universities can play as economic and technological dynamos of the modern world and how investing in technology can drive economic and social development.

The delegation also hosted a Destination Bradford networking dinner for alumni – ‘Braduates’ – applicants and stakeholders with representatives including Syima Aslam, founder and director of the Bradford Literature Festival. I was delighted to see the event attract national TV and newspaper coverage in Pakistan.

Professor Cantor, who was interviewed by journalists, said: “Pakistan is a key area for us in terms of recruitment, alumni, and partnership collaborations, both academic and industrial. It’s our ambition that this visit will create new opportunities, not only for the university but for the Bradford region as a whole.”

Strengthening links with Pakistan will surely open up new trade opportunities with China, the new global superpower. The China Pakistan Economic Corridor initiative includes a $55bn programme of infrastructure investment in roads, railways, telecoms, energy and socio-economic projects. It’s part of the gargantuan One Belt, One Road plan and will connect western China to the Arabian sea through Pakistan.

I read with interest that Leeds Bradford Airport has said future flights to Pakistan could be on the horizon. If realised, this would represent an important connection to that ambitious road, which is surely destined to be the flagship infrastructure project of the 21st century.

It’s vital we keep up in Yorkshire and increase our economic, social and communal connections with fast-growing parts of the global economy. LBA is key to this and thats why it’s important that businesses have their say on new plans to improve transport connectivity to our airport.

West Yorkshire Combined Authority, chaired by Bradford Council leader Cllr Susan Hinchcliffe, has published proposals to support the forecast growth in the airport’s passenger numbers from 4m in 2017 to 7.1m by 2030 and more than 9m by 2050. These include improvements to the road network and a possible new parkway rail station.

Cllr Kim Groves, chair of the WYCA transport committee, said: “Leeds Bradford Airport has huge potential for growth in passenger numbers as well as acting as a catalyst for economic development and job creation in the surrounding area. The proposals to develop much-needed improvements to the airport’s transport connections will help ensure it reaches that potential and I would urge people to ensure they have their say by taking part in the consultation.”

As with Northern Powerhouse Rail, our business community needs to make its voice heard, loud and clear, that Bradford needs investment in infrastructure to accelerate our economic growth.

We are making great progress with our economic growth strategy, a central strand of which is leveraging the potential of our globally connected district. By building partnerships with powerful players like Imran Khan and Pakistan, we’ll soon be rising up the batting order.

• Dave Baldwin is chairman of Bradford Economic Partnership and chief executive of Burnley Football Club

Game on: Bradford hosts Yorkshire Games Festival

I was hooked as soon as I read the blurb: a near-future anti-gravity racing game that brings fast, frantic, adrenaline-fuelled action together with the raw sound of a thumping dance soundtrack and psychedelic visual effects. Formula Fusion is a video game developed by R8 Games for Microsoft Windows and hailed as a spiritual successor to the million-selling Wipeout series.

This one got me as well: a gang of bored friends find themselves locked in a haunted house crammed full of ghosts, exploring the hidden rooms and its dreaded contents for a means of escape. Candy Ghosts is a physical board game and digital companion developed by Wetgenes.

Both developers are based in Bradford and highlight the creativity at work in the UK games industry, which is estimated to generate nearly £3bn in GVA for the national economy and sustain more than 20,000 jobs in development, publishing and retail.

Bradford’s National Science and Media Museum this month hosted the Yorkshire Games Festival, the third such annual event and the biggest to date in terms of international speakers, suggesting that the festival’s reach and reputation is spreading.

The five-day festival was filled with inspiring talks, creative workshops and fun family activities, which the organisers said were designed to celebrate games culture and introduce new generations to the science and art of games development.

Talks included an insight into the imagination of Media Molecule, award-winning developer of the visually stunning PS4 game Dreams, a presentation by the BAFTA-nominated creative technologist Richard England about his work on the Jurassic World VR Expedition and a session about how a semester of social anthropology helped the developers of the hugely successful Hitman series to create dynamic social scenes.

Local independent developers presented their new games to a family audience for beta testing and valuable feedback. The sheer diversity of the medium was showcased with a collection of games that weren’t entirely rooted in the industry, such as the delightful Wobble Garden by Robin Baumgarten, a hand-crafted arrangement of sensing springs combined with reactive lighting and a favourite of the youngest visitors.

For nostalgia lovers, the museum’s Games Lounge featured a line-up of legendary arcade games from the Eighties, such as Street Fighter II, Galaxian, Space Invaders and the mighty Gauntlet. You’ve got to love the original Eighties prices too.

At their best, games offer pure, unadulterated fun and a chance to escape into fantastic new realms of the imagination. Behind the curtain, the creative mastery, developmental expertise and intellectual property realisation are equally awe-inspiring. From a business point of view, many of the technologies pioneered and commercialised by the gaming industry have potent applications for a wide range of sectors, from manufacturing to retail and financial services to agriculture.

For me, the most exciting part of the Yorkshire Games Festival was the opportunity to explore these applications in a two-day matchmaking event called Up Your Game, which was delivered by Bradford Council’s Enterprise Europe Network service and attracted nearly 50 businesses. It was designed to help entrepreneurs, SMEs and other organisations find new partners for collaborations such as commercial or licensing agreements, subcontracting or transfer of technology or knowhow in fields such as virtual reality, augmented reality or gamification.

Specialist tech companies from as far afield as Spain, Lithuania, Romania, Cyprus and Sweden attended Up Your Game and hooked up with Yorkshire firms to explore potential partnerships. These included Mirror 3D Lab from Cyprus, a specialist in 3D scanning, modelling and printing and  creators of true 3D copies of yourself, and Divine Robot from Sweden, a gaming developer that has expanded into corporate VR simulation for a number of different industries.

Congratulations to the festival director Kathryn Penny and the Enterprise Europe Network team. The Yorkshire Games Festival provided an inspirational look at the past, present and future of the industry in a way that was accessible for all ages. And I look forward to seeing what our local businesses can make of all the immersive technology they were exposed to during Up Your Game.

Finally, if anyone thinks this is solely a male preserve, they’d be wrong. Of the 32 million active gamers in the UK, an estimated 15 million are female.

• Dave Baldwin is chairman of Bradford Economic Partnership and chief executive of Burnley Football Club

Ian Ward

General Manager – The Broadway

Ian Ward has more than 30 years’ experience in the retail sector, beginning with leading high-street fashion and food brands, Marks & Spencer and Safeway.

After managing Stafford Centre in East London since 2008, Ian became Centre Director at St John’s Shopping Centre, Liverpool in 2010. When the centre was sold to InfraRed Capital Partners, Ian oversaw St Johns’ multimillion pound redevelopment which saw footfall growing year-on-year through this period of huge transition.

Ian’s time in Liverpool also saw him take up high profile roles elsewhere in the city, both as a non-executive director at St George’s Quarter and chairman of Liverpool City Central BID executive board. Through his role as part of the Board of Trustees for the charity, Ian also provided an advisory voice to Alder Hey Children’s Hospital’s Ronald McDonald House,

In 2016, Ian crossed the Pennines to become General Manager of The Broadway Bradford. The hotly anticipated £260m development opened just months before his arrival, with Ian working to cement The Broadway’s position as the heart and soul of Bradford since his appointment.

Recognising the centre’s key role in its community, once again, Ian has looked to assist developments across Bradford through other organisations.  As the chair of the Bradford BID Development Group, and a member of Bradford Breakthrough, Ian has worked with many stakeholders to put forth ideas on how to build a sustainable and better future for the city. 

Ian is also a part of the Leadership Group Chamber of Commerce, and has been involved in community projects such as Project Search and One in a Million.  He has also recently taken on an advisory role at a local school, utilising his years of experience to assist further developments all across the city.

Phil Forster

Avaition Development & Corporate Affairs – Leeds Bradforrd International Airport

With over 10 years in media and communications, Phil began his career in television where he spent five years as a reporter with Sky Sports News based across the North of England and Scotland.

He then moved to Newcastle Airport to take on the role of Media & Public Affairs Manager and after spending three years at the north east airport, moved to his current role as Head of External Affairs at Leeds Bradford Airport.

Phil drives the airport’s public affairs strategy, including lobbying on aviation strategy and capacity and is closely involved in work with his colleagues to put customer experience at the heart of the business strategy while boosting connectivity through Yorkshire’s Airport.

Roger Marsh

Chair – Leeds City Region Partnership

Roger is the former senior partner at PWC Leeds and a member of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority Board.

Since becoming Chair of the Leeds City Region Local Enterprise Partnership , Roger has led the LEP through a period of significant transformation, securing the country’s largest Local Growth Deal settlement and bringing £1 billion of investment to the region.

Tony Bhogul

MD – Autoelectro Ltd

Tony has grown up in Bradford and has a great passion for the City having business interests in Bradford and has actively been involved in the local community for many years.

His family business, Autoelectro, was established in 1986 and has now grown to be the largest independent remanufacturer and supplier of car parts in its sector in the UK.

He originally graduated as a Mining Engineer but joined the family business due to the turmoil in the mining industry at the time. He also holds a Masters’ Degree in Real Estate.

He and his company have been great supporters of Bradford City football Club being shirt sponsors for three years.

He has also followed up his passion for cars by being involved with the Bradford Classic Car Show which is held annually.

Steve Hartley

Strategic Director for Place, Bradford Council

Steve Hartley is Bradford Council’s Strategic Director for Place, overseeing all activities that contribute to making the District a great place to live, work and enjoy: from economic development, housing, planning and transport to sport, culture, waste management and neighbourhood, customer and community services. 

A Cambridge graduate, Steve has 10 years private sector experience in manufacturing as both a production engineer and an IT systems specialist.

He spent 15 years working in community regeneration, initially in London for City Challenge and Single Regeneration Budget programmes, before returning to his native Bradford in 2000 as Chief Executive of Bradford Trident, the development trust formed to run the New Deal for Communities programme, awarded ‘Regeneration Partnership of the Year’ in 2006.  He joined Bradford Council as Assistant Director for Neighbourhoods in 2008 and is also a non-executive director of the National Association for Neighbourhood Management.

Sandy Needham

Chief Executive, West and North Yorkshire Chamber

Sandy Needham is the Chief Executive of the West and North Yorkshire Chamber, the leading business organisation for the Bradford, Leeds, York and North Yorkshire, offering lobbying and a large range of business services. In the last ten years the Chamber has created a fund to lend to companies, built managed offices and industrial units for growing businesses and created networks for specific sectors and areas of work e.g. manufacturing alliances.

Earlier roles include working as a Company Secretary in a small company, Regional Manager with TV-am and Yorkshire Television, Regional Manager with NCH/Action for Children, Regional Director of Common Purpose and Chief Executive of Chamber Management Services Ltd and the Bradford Chamber.

Sandy is a Trustee of the John Speak Foreign Languages Foundation and a non-executive director of Business Enterprise Finance Ltd, a community development finance institution lending to businesses. Other roles include being a member of the Bradford Producer City Board and a Director of the Leeds Business Improvement District. Sandy also holds non-executive directorships with the British Chambers of Commerce, Yorkshire & Humber Chambers of Commerce and Bradford City of Film and interim Director of the Bradford Business Improvement District.

Nick Garthwaite

MD Christeyns, President of Bradford Chamber of Commerce

Nick Garthwaite is Managing Director at Christeyns UK and very much at the heart of all that goes on at the company.  Born in London in 1957, he has spent most of his life to date in Yorkshire, and thus would like to be considered an honorary Yorkshireman!

Nick started his working life as an Apprentice Engineer at David Brown Gear Industries in Huddersfield moving to Flender in 1984 where he worked his way up to become Managing Director.  Flender was acquired by Siemens in 2005.  In August 2010 he joined Christeyns in Bradford as Managing Director. During the last seven years Nick has been heavily involved in acquiring other companies in the UK for the Christeyns group. Nick was appointed President of Bradford Chamber of Commerce in July 2017 and also sits on the Bradford Economic Partnership.

Amir Hussain

CEO – YEME Architects

As founder of Bradford based Yeme Architects, Amir Hussain has been extensively involved in design-led regeneration of challenging sites across Yorkshire and London.

Amir has a strong understanding of local dynamics and shortcomings which are aligned with an understanding of progressive trends around technology and future thinking.

Amir is a Board Member of the Leeds City Region LEP as well as being a Panel Member of the Business, Innovation and Growth Panel and the Land and Assets Panel. In addition, Amir is also involved in Bradford’s Place Marketing Panel, aimed at creating an inclusive, visionary brand narrative that aptly reflects an exceptional post-industrial city.

Having extensive contacts within Yorkshire’s ambitious BAEM/SME sector has been invaluable in presenting their views and raising engagement in this process.

Amir is a keen supporter of grass roots community involvement. Being a school Governor, Amir is energetically involved in school attainment improvement activities particularly aimed at underachieving pupils.