I’d spent the last three years working in London for the previous Leader of the Opposition.
After two general election campaigns and travelling thousands of miles around the country, I felt it was time to move back to start my new business, Larkin PR.
But on March 23, instead of coming home to work, I had to work from home.
Larkin – named after the famous Hull University librarian and poet – was one of an estimated 56,000 start-ups launched in the month lockdown began.
Like many start-ups, we were unable to qualify for Government support but very lucky not to need it.
My costs were low, I’d not signed up to office space and the only business interruption came from a cat called Sparky who occasionally prowled across my laptop.
What really helped start-ups like mine were three things I think Hull has in abundance – innovation, collaboration, and determination.
The city’s culture of innovation can be traced back to Hull Corporation refusing to give up its municipal telephone company to what became BT.
Our telephone department grew into Kingston Communications and KCOM, developed Europe’s first fully digital telephone network in 1989, Europe’s first commercial “fast internet” service in 1999 as well as pioneering video-on-demand and digital TV.
This innovation means we now have one of the fastest broadband speeds in the world, perfect for tech start-ups in the city.
That’s why once lockdown lifted, I moved into the Centre for Digital Innovation (C4DI) in the city’s rejuvenated Fruit Market.
C4DI has helped incubate countless innovative companies like 3D fabrication and printing company NFire Labs, health tech brand Moodbeam and IOT innovators Nerdonic.
This means the city is perfect for another key strength - collaboration - as it has a wealth of talented people working in the creative, design and tech sectors.
Finally, there is a great sense of determination in Hull that flows through this great maritime city like the river that bears its name.
When Hull was bombed 82 times by the Luftwaffe and witnessed the decline of the fishing industry, our people didn’t sit back and accept it.
They had the determination to rebuild and adapt.
Hull now benefits from a new harvest from the sea. Offshore wind.
What excites me is the fantastic potential of the Humber as an Energy Estuary.
Sixty per cent of the world’s population and 22 of the 32 biggest cities are located on or around an estuary.
These cities tend not only to be big carbon emitters but also the most at risk from rising sea levels and storms caused by climate change.
The Humber’s wind energy expertise is now world renowned; we’re developing hydrogen production and carbon capture and storage plants, the University of Hull is becoming the UK centre of excellence on how regions can decarbonise and the city council has pledged to be carbon neutral by 2030.
We could be a world leader in exporting our knowledge to help these cities move to Net Zero.
Just call us Decarbon-on-Humber.
Hull’s determination to solve problems has also been self-evident during the pandemic, from Hull Trains’ Louise Cheeseman successfully getting the services back on track, without a bailout, to local tailor Cock of the Walk creating 3,000 PPE gowns for local hospitals and care homes, and Rose Lavery helping to raise more than £18,000 to reopen the Polar Bear pub as a Community Interest Company.
There’s no doubt we all face another tough six months ahead.
But if we can continue to collaborate, innovate and stay determined, Hull will come back stronger.
We have before and we will again.
By David Prescott CEO of Larkin PR in Hull
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