Public meeting could help businesses in Cambridge decide how they respond to Brexit

Unsurprisingly, given that the majority of Cambridge voters were in favour of remaining in the European Union (EU), the result of June’s referendum has raised many questions and concerns amongst the city’s residents and business owners.

In response to hundreds of letters received by Cambridge MP Daniel Zeichner, Cambridge City Council has organised a free public meeting on the implications of Brexit, taking place on Friday 5 August, 7pm-9pm at The Guildhall, Market Square in Cambridge.

Entitled ‘Responding to Brexit – achieving the Best for Cambridge’, the ticketed event will be a chance for residents to discuss the implications of leaving the EU with influential leaders from the business, political, academic and NHS communities.

Speakers include Dr Simon Usherwood, Senior Lecturer in Politics at the University of Surrey and from the ‘UK in a Changing Europe’ programme, who will discuss the impact of Brexit on Cambridge and the UK, as well as Claire Ruskin, Chief Executive Officer of Cambridge Network, who will share ideas from the business community. They will also be joined by Professor Chris Abell, Pro-Vice Chancellor for Research, University of Cambridge, who will give a perspective from the university, along with Dr Mike More, Vice Chair of the Board of Directors, Cambridge University Hospitals Trust, who will offer views from Addenbrooke’s Hospital and the NHS.

I hope this meeting will provide some clarity, but of course, nobody can predict definite outcomes as these will be down to future negotiations, including those with EU partners. For example, British universities in collaboration with small businesses, such as those in Cambridge, receive a total of £850m in research grants each year from the EU. Whilst there has already been claims that research projects have been affected, with The Guardian reporting that several UK academics are being asked to leave EU funded projects because they are considered a financial liability, the way our country responds will ultimately determine how we let this affect us. Cambridge is one of the most entrepreneurial cities in the UK with global connections to draw upon. If used to our advantage these could be used to forge new relationships in the international research market, including new deals with EU Partners.

This outlook can be applied to most businesses in their response to Brexit. Flexibility will be crucial; businesses will have to adapt and seize new opportunities. Before becoming a business coach and mentor in Cambridge, I was the owner of a multi-million-pound business, during which time I faced the challenges of a threatened economy with both the 1991 and 2008 recessions. The business came through successfully due to a focus on operations, a clear strategy and investment in staff (along with a lot of hard work). With a similar insight and the right support, I believe businesses can largely determine their fate in the face of Brexit implications.

It is a good idea for business owners to attend events such as ‘Responding to Brexit – achieving the Best for Cambridge’ to keep as informed as possible and seek advice. I would also urge companies to look out for government schemes and support – even where funding has been cut, there can still be opportunities. An example of this is our own Growth Accelerator programme, which we developed after the support from a similar government scheme was cut due to funding, despite it delivering tangible results for businesses.

If you are interested in working with a business coach in Cambridge to support you and your business in the wake of Brexit, please get in touch for a no obligation friendly chat.

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