SCC Annual Report 2020: summarising an eventful and game-changing year
3 June 2021
We can only summarise 20XX as an eventful and game-changing year. Two monumental and deeply impactful and structural changes swept over us simultaneously in the United Kingdom; with Britain’s long awaited exit from the European Union and the Covid-19 pandemic.
For many businesses, it was a reckoning, and for most it led to an unparalleled fuelling of innovation. When writing this, we have reached the ‘opening up again’ phase of the pandemic, and following a successful vaccination programme, there is a definite light at the end of the tunnel.
The focus is now on the way forward. Already back in May of 2020, the Chamber hosted its first “Emerging stronger” event, a forum where businesses shared their thinking on the structural impact of the pandemic, and what would be expected ‘on the other side’. Emerging stronger became our unofficial theme of the year, as we engaged a greater audience from our membership than ever before. For us, it was a year of embracing agility, celebrating community and taking pride in the stability of
the Chamber platform.
A new trading relationship
As of 1 January 2021, we are faced with a new European trading landscape, unfolding post-Brexit. With its 1,246 pages, the trade agreement is quite the achievement, considering the events of the autumn. In eliminating tariffs and laying the groundwork for future cooperation, it avoided some of the economic pain that a no-deal outcome would have left us all in. The first couple of months into the new trading relationship were at times painful, but we will all find our feet again as we get used to a new framework, new borders and new processes. The new year spells out a new era.
Swedish business shows confidence in the UK market. In an SCC survey from February 2021, some 40% of Swedish businesses remained optimistic about business growth, and over 70% see the UK as an important step in their continued international expansion strategies. Swedish businesses have long sought the UK as a natural expansion market, and today some 100,000 jobs are secured through Swedish business and industry. The UK is still one of the world’s greatest economies and London is still a leading world financial centre. Many Swedish businesses see an expansion to the UK as a gateway to the rest of the world, and the survey results confirm this.
The Swedish-British trading relationship is important, and there is great mutual value in developing it. Through partnerships with the UK’s Department for International Trade and the Embassy of Sweden (to name a few) we have supported a growing number of Swedish businesses with hands-on support, introductions, matchmaking and ‘lessons learned’ when demystifying and enabling expansion to the UK. With the added complexities of Brexit, the Chamber and its network is in growing demand.
A new platform takes shape
As we headed into the unknown in March 2020, our platform changed immediately. Being at the core of the business community, we felt the need to adapt quickly. Within the first week, we moved our events and activities onto digital platforms, and tested our way through in the following weeks. Most of our products, whether roundtable discussions, larger forums or mentorship and accelerator programmes were translatable and adaptable. Today, it is fully natural for us to consider the continued presence of a digital offering as we start to open up society again. Whilst in some ways the pandemic locked us in, it also opened us up as we meet members from across the UK and Sweden, some joining for the first time.
Remembering our theme for the year, emerging stronger, our mission was focused on adapting our services and activities so that we continued to provide valuable and relevant services to our members, whether it involved new platforms, new content or new services. To finish the year (20XX) with a member survey clearly indicating an increased perception of value in the SCC membership is a humbling result.