As someone who previously worked as ‘Community Engagement & Partnerships Manager’ for Tech North (part of Tech City UK & recently rebranded as Tech Nation) I recognise the value of encouraging entrepreneurs, startups & SMEs to travel between the major Northern cities of Newcastle, Sunderland, Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield & Hull plus of course London & Edinburgh.
However, most don’t because of the perceived high cost (it can be unnecessarily expensive), perceived poor infrastructure (I don’t think it’s THAT bad) & the deep-rooted city rivalries & local tribalism.
Rightly or wrongly, most people in the UK simply don’t travel regularly between cities unless it’s for a holiday/city break, especially not startups & micro business owners (0-9 employees) which is stifling innovation, creativity & productivity & holding our economy back.
We ‘Northerners’ are at a disadvantage because the amount of money spent on Northern transport infrastructure is ridiculously low when compared to London, yet we are also often expected to travel to London for meetings & work opportunities & rarely the other way around which is like an extra tax on the North.
It will cost millions/billions over many years to fix/upgrade transport infrastructure in the North. In the short term, to help encourage greater movement of talent, business networking & knowledge exchange, I’d REALLY like to see Transport for the North do the following:
Introduce a new ‘Northern Powerhouse Railcard’ giving 1/3 off all rail fare for entrepreneurs & founders of businesses in their first 3yrs of trading, based in the North East, North West & Yorkshire.
We already have 1/3 off Railcards for 16-25yr olds, 26-30yr olds, Family & Friends, Senior Railcards & Disabled at Railcard.co.uk so why not entrepreneurs/new businesses?
I’m sure it would be a big hit & would certainly use it. Would you? (Please Share &/or Comment below if you like the idea).