Mark Casci: Direct route to Silicon Valley no good if it takes three hours to cross the Pennines.

The Moscone Center in San Francisco
The Moscone Center in San Francisco
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As the wheels of the plane lift from the tarmac at Manchester Airport this morning, a new chapter for Yorkshire’s business community begins.

For the first time the North of England will have a direct route to Silicon Valley as Virgin Atlantic begins flying directly to San Francisco.

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Yorkshire technology firms in trade mission to Silicon Valley

As well as taking you to the home of the Golden Gate Bridge, Haight-Ashbury and the Grateful Dead it now means that the burgeoning tech sector of the north now has a direct route to the tech capital of the world.

The scale of the importance of Silicon Valley, referring to the southern portion of the so-called ‘Bay Area’, is borne out by the fact that it houses many of the world’s largest high-tech corporations, including the headquarters of 39 businesses in the Fortune 1000.

Companies in the area account for one-third of all of the venture capital investment in the United States and provides employment for a quarter of a million information technology workers.

Until now tech companies wishing to do business there had to go through a time-consuming layover.

As Dr Adam Beaumont from Aql, a man who knows more than most about the tech sector, told me: “If you are a platform tech company in the UK you absolutely as a business need to spend time in San Francisco.”

The scale of the market there is vast and now we as an area have a great opportunity to both benefit from this epicentre of excellence but also attract greater inward investment. As Brexit negotiations begin in earnest this week we should talk up at every opportunity we have to bolster improved trading relations with the world at large.

Stuart Wood, partner at BDO LLP, said its US network has more than doubled in size since 2012.

“The better the connectivity is from our region, the more growth opportunities we are likely to be able to develop,” he said.

Whatever you may think about the Northern Powerhouse, or its architect’s foray into journalism with a London-based newspaper, the fact is the concept has tangible benefits in terms of encouraging inward investment and is known, and understood, across the globe.

The better connected we can be in this regard is vital and for the North’s chief airport to have inaugurated flight in the past 12 months to both the West Coast of the United States and to the Chinese capital of Beijing is a huge boost for our economy.

The challenge we have now is to make it work and to have a local transport infrastructure worthy of the global reach we increasingly have as an economy.

It is no good shaving hours off of a trip to the other side of the world if we cannot get across the Pennines in decent time. The distance between Leeds and Manchester is less than that of the Central Line on the London Underground.

However, the journey time between these two great cities is still embarrassingly slow.

Investment in this area has never been so paramount and if we cannot deliver that effectively and quickly we are throwing away one of the best chances of success that Yorkshire has seen in generations.

The turnaround at Karro Food Group is one of the great success stories in Yorkshire’s recent business history. When Endless acquired the business from VION in 2013 it was in deep trouble.

But credit to the private equity giant’s tenacity, and that of the executive team at Karro led by Di Walker.

It is now back where it belongs as one of the country’s preeminent suppliers of pork to the continent, providing employment for more than 3,000 people and a considerable outlet for Yorkshire’s proud farming community.

The sale yesterday to CapVest marks the completion of years of talent and hard work. The way that Ms Walker, her team, and Endless have handled the process should serve as comfort to any business encountering dark times.

My congratulations to all involved.