As the year draws to a close, it is appropriate that we take stock of our achievements during this most challenging of times, acknowledge our many friends, family and colleagues who have assisted us on our journey, and then turn our gaze forward to the coming year ahead.
I have been delighted in the way our office adapted so readily to the changed circumstances that commenced in mid-March. We made an almost uninterrupted transition to working from home and, apart from the string of events that were cancelled or turned into virtual events, business continued unabated. I trust that those of you who are our clients are satisfied with the level of service we have been able to provide.
Highlights of the year for us included the London Tech Week virtual trade mission with 10 start-ups and scale-ups from our incredible Perth innovation ecosystem attending a comprehensive range of virtual events which informed, challenged and assisted them with their growth plans. We received plenty of positive feedback from the participants and we are looking forward to seeing their businesses thrive and grow. I would like to thank our partners, Newfound, UK DIT and Austrade for their assistance. We would love to further champion the participants, and any other tech innovators in Western Australia, that are interested in penetrating the UK/European market or are looking for investors.
Of course we shouldn’t forget, we started the year supporting a trade delegation from Scotland, organised in conjunction with our good friends in Scottish Development International, and planned to coincide with Australasian Oil and Gas Expo in Perth. We were very fortunate that this ‘real’ event was completed just prior to Lockdown. I was able to accompany the team and it was pleasing to see the growing realisation amongst the delegates of what a fertile field Western Australia is for like-minded businesses looking to expand into Australia and our region.
In market, we have participated in a vast array of webinars and online events and have discovered, like so many others, that the pandemic has opened up new channels for business to be done and has broken down the barriers of distance and time zones. It has been wonderful this year to host and participate in events linking people in Western Australia, live, with people in the UK and Europe. Industry sectors addressed include critical raw materials for batteries, renewable energy including hydrogen and other elements of the energy transition, investment in WA’s innovation ecosystem and defence, to name a few.
We have worked with our partners at the Australia United Kingdom Chamber of Commerce and provided sponsorship for their ‘Capital 2020’ series of events. This has been a very fruitful partnership and the ‘virtual’ nature of the events has meant that we have been able to invite colleagues and clients in Perth to join in the carefully orchestrated events. Watch out for the third event in this series still to come in Q1 2021.
On the domestic front, we have been busy in a number of ways. Our staffing changed when Charlotta left for maternity leave and was replaced by Kim Moss, who has stepped almost seamlessly into the role. In anticipation of a return to office, we took the opportunity whilst it is unmanned to install a new kitchen, which looks fabulous, and we have also launched our new website, which is very easy to navigate and contains a wealth of information about Western Australia and our industry focus.
As we look ahead, we see an exciting and productive time before us. With the end of the Brexit transition period imminent and the expected signing of the A-UK and A-EU Free Trade Agreements in the coming year there is a fundamental change in the economic and trade relationship of this market and how it relates to Western Australia. Our job is to work with businesses who want to capitalise on these doors now opening, for the prosperity and economic benefit of the people of Western Australia.
As the world turns its attention to beating the virus, protecting everyone through vaccination and working to rebuild the economy, we do it with a newfound recognition of the importance of addressing climate change and sustainability. This augurs well for Western Australia and we must capitalise on the opportunities this provides us. The UN Climate Change summit, COP26, to be held in Glasgow in November and jointly hosted by the UK and Italy, is an ideal platform for Western Australia to promote its clean credentials, its technology and its clever people on the world stage. Similarly, EvokeAG agricultural technology expo and conference to be held in Perth in early 2022 will turn the spotlight on WA and give us a chance to shine.
I take this opportunity, on behalf of my entire team, to wish you and your family and friends, the most restful and enjoyable Christmas and a safe, healthy and prosperous 2021.
Mike Deeks CSC, Agent General