How changing one word can make all the difference

Picture of a person using their hands to frame a sunset

We have the opportunity to reframe the future of the environment, climate, business opportunities, economy, jobs, and education - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

David Parfrey, chief executive of Norwich Research Park, explains why we should strive to 'bounce forward' rather than 'bounce back' as we emerge from the pandemic.

In my last column, I talked about turning the ‘possible’ into the ‘likely’. As we approach a year of living under pandemic conditions, we are starting to see possible light at the end of the tunnel. 

There is no doubt that we are going to have to learn to live with COVID-19 much like we do with influenza. But the medical angle is not the only area of our lives that has changed.  

Picture of David Parfrey, executive chair of Norwich Research Park

David Parfrey, executive chair of Norwich Research Park - Credit: Joe Lenton

On a positive note, I’d like to think that the resurgence of communities and concern for those around us will continue; that our recognition of sitting in long commuter queues, adding to the impending climate disaster, just to do the things we can easily do at home, is now seen as largely unnecessary.  

I hope that the discussion about science remains normal to us all, such that we have a more informed debate about it and the positive role it can play in helping our society to flourish in years to come. 

The Prime Minister himself has stated that he wants Britain to be a Science Superpower. At Norwich Research Park we already have world-leading research happening every day looking to resolve some of humankind’s most critical challenges in food, health, climate change and genomics. Centres of excellence like ours must be used to their maximum to help the UK economy. 

Science, along with sectors such as renewable energy, tech, creative services and food manufacture, need to be at the centre of our region’s economy. We have several businesses at our Park which are translating the science developed here into real-life applications. The potential to grow the number of businesses doing this is really exciting, as are the positive knock on effects it will have for the region’s  education, employment and economic growth prospects. 

A phrase that has been used often is ‘how we bounce back’. I want to challenge that and ask us to ‘bounce forward’ instead. There is so much tied up in changing that one word. We must go forward to something better, using everything we have learned.  

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In this region we need to act and lead not wait and follow. We need to actively participate in conversations about our environment, climate, business opportunities, economy, jobs, education, our young and those on the edge of society. We mustn’t be constrained about the way it was; instead, we must collaboratively think about what’s possible, and then make the ‘possible’ the ‘likely’. 

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