Stirling Business Month 2020 Highlights.

As Stirling Business Month draws to a close, it’s a good opportunity to look back
at our first fully virtual month and reflect on what we learnt.

Here’s a roundup of the highlights from the month:

The Wellbeing Economy and Community Wealth Building

In 2018, Scotland joined the Wellbeing Economy Alliance, a network of countries developing frameworks to measure social, economic and environmental factors in an attempt to move beyond GDP being the sole measurement of economic success

We heard from Sarah Deas, Trustee at the Wellbeing Economy Alliance about what the Wellbeing Economy is and what this means for business.

Sarah introduced us to the concept of Doughnut economics.

For years we have been chasing the ultimate GDP, this has led to social injustice and pushing us towards ecological collapse.

The concept of Doughnut economics replaces this out dated concept of GDP with a focus on meeting the needs of all within the means of the planet and gears society, business and government to focus on reaching the middle of the doughnut – the sweet spot for humanity.

On the most outer circle of the doughnut scientists have identified environmental process which if under too much pressure from human activity, any one of these processes could be pushed into abrupt and potentially irreversible change.

To avoid this, the scientists proposed a set of boundaries below each of their danger zones (such as a limit of 350 parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to prevent dangerous climate change). They called the area within the boundaries “a safe operating space for humanity”.

These are the proposed environmental goals our economy should focus on.

This “safe operating space” may serve to protect the environment, but it speaks little to the social aspects of our economy.

The concept of social boundaries therefore is also part of the doughnut.

Just as there is an environmental boundaries so too there are social foundation of resource use, below which lies unacceptable human deprivation.

The social foundations are inspired by the social aims of the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations. These are based on: Food security, Health, Education, Income and work, Peace and justice, Political voice, Social equity, Gender equality, Housing, Networks, Energy, Water.

Between the social foundation and the environmental ceiling lies a space shaped like a doughnut, which is both a safe and just area for humanity. Where mainstream economics famously failed to recognise that the economy operates within environmental limits, scientists have stepped in to do it instead, in a simple, visual way that we can all understand.

In connection to the Wellbeing Economy, we also heard from Hisashi Kuboyama,  Development Manager, West of Scotland, FSB about Community Wealth Building.

Community Wealth Building (CWB) is a new people-centred approach to local economic development, which redirects wealth back into the local economy, and places control and benefits into the hands of local people. There are five key pillars of CWB: procurement; employment; land and assets; financial powers; democratic ownership of the local economy.

For the purposes of this event FSB chose to focus the discussion on the first pillar – procurement.

In Scotland for every £1 local authorities spend on good and services with SMEs an additional 63p is generated for the local economy.

The Centre for Local Economic Strategies (CLES) is the national organisation for local economies, developing progressive economics for people and planet. The CLES are working with local authorities to influence policy, change behaviour and implement processes which bring maximum benefits to people and places, within the limits of the environment.

Hisashi then led us through how Stirling performs versus the rest of Scotland. As you can see from Figure 2 Stirling is below average when it comes to Council  procurement spend on local enterprise.

In summary in order for CWB to have a true impact on the local economy the local Council needs to develop a CWB approach to procurement and working with local anchor institutions, the council should aim to increase local spending to maximise it’s impact on the local economy.

Rural Forum

At our virtual Rural Forum, we were introduced to the various support available for rural based businesses. We then had a live Q&A focused on rural business topics.

Employer Forum

There are just over
1,000 employers in Stirling.

That’s 1,000 business owners with similar problems. Our employers’ forum is an opportunity for employers to share best practice on topics such as recruitment, skills development, COVID and more. With a focus on sustaining employment in the area and similar to our Rural Forum, organisations focused on supporting employment in the area, introduced what support is available and then took questions from the group of employers.

What’s Hot & Happening in Business and Management Education

In partnership with the FSB, Cat Cripps, FSB  Area Leader, West of Scotland and Director at Wild Cat Solutions took us through the latest business jargon.

From Advertainment to Growth Hacking.

Cat explained all those terms that you’ve heard, never really understood but didn’t want to ask.

Next we heard from Professor Kevin Grant, Dean of Stirling Management School, University of Stirling. Prof. Grant took us through the new developments in business and management training and gave us an insight in to the new breed of graduates expected to enter the world of business.

Digital Forum

The month long program of events was finished off with our Digital Forum.

At this virtual event we heard from James Toner, Shaun Marley, Jonathan McDougall from Stirling Council and Doug Young from the Smart Cities Alliance to gain an understanding of all the great work being done on Stirling’s Smart City, Internet of Things and Open Data projects.

Stirling Business Events 2021

We are currently making plans for our  business events in 2021.

Due to COVID-19 this year’s events were all held virtually and we hope to have a mixture of on and offline events next year.

We would love to hear what would support you best, so would be grateful if you could take 5 minutes to complete our survey. You can access the survey at

Thanks in advance and we hope you see you in 2021!

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