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Surf, scones… but no homes: the battle for the soul of Cornwall | Cornwall

It’s the last day of free parking at Porthtowan beach on Cornwall’s wild Atlantic coast before the summer charging season begins. Plenty of people are making the most of the sunny but cold day. The steep hills surrounding the cove are bright yellow with gorse in full bloom, framing the brilliant turquoise sea against the cobalt sky.

The wind is up, and white-peaked waves roar on to the sand and cliffs. There are some holidaymakers around, with children bundled up in hats and gloves along with buckets and spades – but most are locals enjoying this quieter time before the tourist season kicks off once again.

Porthtowan will be the backdrop to a not-so-picture-postcard scene this weekend, however, when it hosts a rally of rage against the tide of second home ownership that is threatening to wash away the very soul of Cornwall.

The county has been romanticised as a dreamy destination for decades. Television schedules are full of programmes on Cornwall, espousing its long walks and pub lunches. Centuries of remoteness, and a life once dominated by farming, mining and fishing, have given way to Instagrammable photo opportunities and aspirational ideals of life by the sea. But locals are increasingly fearful that it has become over-exposed, overpriced and in danger of losing the essence of what makes it such a unique place.

Gordon Ramsay, who has a second home in Cornwall
Gordon Ramsay, who has a second home in Cornwall, stoked anger when he said he loved the county but hated the Cornish. Photograph: Neil Mockford/GC Images

The pandemic has stirred up these tensions by further fuelling a property boom, with locals finding themselves priced out by housing wealth from up country that Cornish wages can’t compete with, while at the same time record numbers of visitors use Cornwall as a holiday playground and then leave.

The divisions are evident – graffiti was daubed on a holiday home in St Agnes last month. Days later, comments by the chef Gordon Ramsay, who has a second home in Cornwall, about “loving” the county “but hating the Cornish” stoked the fires further.

Given that £2bn of revenue comes from tourism, up to a fifth of all private sector income in the county, some say that Cornwall shouldn’t bite the hand that feeds it. But for many who live there, it’s as much about incomers and visitors showing appreciation and consideration as it is about money.

A nurse walking on Porthtowan beach, who didn’t want to give her name, turns to look back at the sea before getting in her car. “It’s so beautiful, it’s such a special place. Look at what we have. Who am I to say that someone from Liverpool or Huddersfield or any town anywhere can’t come here and enjoy it too? We are so lucky to live here and we want to share it with others, but we do want Cornwall to be treated with respect,” she says.

“I grew up here, I’ll never leave. Some people say Cornwall should just be for the Cornish – I don’t agree with that sentiment at all. I mean, what does it mean to be Cornish? There are people who live here who’ve come from all over the world, and they have every right to make a life here and be part of communities here. I don’t even have a problem with second homes in principle – but people who live and work here should be able to afford to live here too.”

Retirees John Adey and Penny Avant have also been enjoying a brisk walk on the beach. They moved from neighbouring Devon to be nearer their daughters, both of whom live in fields, one in a caravan, one in a cabin, because of lack of housing options.

“There is a myth that Cornwall is totally dependent on tourism. It’s not. It’s full of lots of people who have normal jobs. And those that do work in tourism need jobs that are all-year-round. We can understand why people come, why it’s so attractive. But it feels like Cornwall is on the edge now. It can’t exist just as a holiday destination. Once communities are gone, then the whole place becomes a theme park,” says Adey.

Kim Conchie, who runs the Cornwall Chamber of Commerce, admits tourism has put the county close to breaking point. “Visitors provide a lot of colour to Cornwall, a lot of custom, and have driven a rise in standards in restaurants, food offerings and accommodation. If people are coming here and paying for services that Cornwall has to offer in a vernacular way that suits the Cornish psyche, then I’m all in favour of them.

Jess Ratty with her daughter.
Jess Ratty with her daughter. She runs a PR agency that works with global technology and space industries. Photograph: Rachel Stevenson

“But there were visitors last year who hadn’t got any feel for the soul of Cornwall, and I think that upset locals a lot – especially those with brand new Range Rovers that won’t pull into the hedge because they might scratch the side. Those attitudes create conflict,” says Conchie.

“The second homes debate is a real one, and anyone denying it is burying their head in the sand,” he says, adding that he would like Cornwall to have the power to do the same as the Welsh government and heavily tax second homes.

He wants to see a much more balanced economy. “There is more to Cornwall than tourism. We want a thriving hospitality sector, but one that works alongside other industries, like technology and renewable energy. If Cornwall’s future is based around those things, then it could be quite a rosy one – we could be on the cusp of a new golden age for Cornwall.”

Jess Ratty is part of that vanguard fighting for a future far removed from the perception of Cornwall as nothing more than holidays, cream teas and pasties. The 37-year-old grew up in St Austell and never left. She began as a waitress at the Eden Project and now runs a thriving PR and communications agency, Halo, which works with global technology and space industries.

“We have soul, culture, history – and opinions – here in Cornwall,” she says. “I think problems lie in the lack of communication, which many of us are trying to fix. We actually have one of the best tech scenes in the UK – marine tech, rocket science, agri-tech, health tech, clean tech. And we’re working on new skills, powered by bodies like Cornwall’s Digital Skills Partnership.

“The space sector alone is going to bring the types of jobs our engineering and mining ancestors would give their back teeth for, and opportunities for young people that just don’t get talked about enough.”

“I have a young daughter and I want her to grow up here and feel like Cornwall is a place where she belongs. It is her home and it should also be her place of work as well as a playground for all,” she says. “I think we can do that – with ambition, support and understanding of the true situation many people face.”

The Story Of A Satellite exhibition hosted by Spaceport Cornwall.
The Story Of A Satellite exhibition hosted by Spaceport Cornwall. Photograph: Jonny Weeks/The Guardian

She has offered to have a friendly pint with Gordon Ramsay any time. But it’s not just Ramsay who has raised hackles. The co-founder of the Eden Project, Sir Tim Smit, recently suggested the Cornish are prone to harking back to imaginary “good old days”, and moaning about their lot while not being “articulate enough” to speak up for themselves.

Smit was speaking in a podcast made by the comedian and musician Seamas Carey, who grew up in and lives in Cornwall. After tuning the piano of a second-home owner while struggling to find somewhere to live himself, Carey, 28, decided to make a podcast exploring the issues he was facing. From gentrification and second-home ownership to nationalism and Cornwall’s cultural heritage, he went on a personal journey through Cornwall’s soul.

“I wanted to spark conversations and debate,” says Carey. He worries for the future of Cornwall, but as he finishes editing the last episode of his series, ultimately feels more positive about Cornwall than when he started. “I worry massively about where I am going to live. But the narrative is changing, and it’s wrong to put the blame on certain scapegoats.

“The Cornish can be grumpy, although people do come here and trample all over the place. But look at the history of Cornwall – it’s been a global trading hub for thousands of years,” he says.

“I think some of the traditionalists are holding on too tightly to what they think is Cornish culture. The spirit of Cornwall, well – it can be anything and can be embodied by so-called newcomers as much as anyone. Things always change. I remain hopeful about life here – it’s frustrating and challenging. But totally worth it.”

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Top 10 Florida Cities Dominate The Business Startup Landscape In The U.S.

Top 10 Florida Cities And Business Startup Landscape In The U.S.

The Voice Of EU | Florida emerges as a hub for entrepreneurial endeavors, with its vibrant business landscape and conducive environment for startups. Renowned for its low corporate tax rates and a high concentration of investors, the Sunshine State beckons aspiring entrepreneurs seeking fertile grounds to launch and grow their businesses.

In a recent report by WalletHub, Florida cities dominate the list of the top 10 best destinations for business startups, showcasing their resilience and economic vitality amidst challenging times.

From Orlando’s thriving market to Miami’s dynamic ecosystem, each city offers unique advantages and opportunities for entrepreneurial success. Let’s delve into the chronologically listed cities that exemplify Florida’s prominence in the business startup arena.

1. Orlando Leads the Way: Orlando emerges as the most attractive market in the U.S. for business startups, with a remarkable surge in small business establishments. WalletHub’s latest report highlights Orlando’s robust ecosystem, fostering the survival and growth of startups, buoyed by a high concentration of investors per capita.

2. Tampa Takes Second Place: Securing the second spot among large cities for business startups, Tampa boasts a favorable business environment attributed to its low corporate tax rates. The city’s ample investor presence further fortifies startups, providing essential resources for navigating the initial years of business operations.

3. Charlotte’s Diverse Industries: Claiming the third position, Charlotte stands out for its diverse industrial landscape and exceptionally low corporate taxes, enticing companies to reinvest capital. This conducive environment propels entrepreneurial endeavors, contributing to sustained economic growth.

4. Jacksonville’s Rising Profile: Jacksonville emerges as a promising destination for startups, bolstered by its favorable business climate. The city’s strategic positioning fosters entrepreneurial ventures, attracting aspiring business owners seeking growth opportunities.

5. Miami’s Entrepreneurial Hub: Miami solidifies its position as a thriving entrepreneurial hub, attracting businesses with its dynamic ecosystem and strategic location. The city’s vibrant startup culture and supportive infrastructure make it an appealing destination for ventures of all sizes.

6. Atlanta’s Economic Momentum: Atlanta’s ascent in the business startup landscape underscores its economic momentum and favorable business conditions. The city’s strategic advantages and conducive policies provide a fertile ground for entrepreneurial ventures to flourish.

7. Fort Worth’s Business-Friendly Environment: Fort Worth emerges as a prime destination for startups, offering a business-friendly environment characterized by low corporate taxes. The city’s supportive ecosystem and strategic initiatives facilitate the growth and success of new ventures.

8. Austin’s Innovation Hub: Austin cements its status as an innovation hub, attracting startups with its vibrant entrepreneurial community and progressive policies. The city’s robust infrastructure and access to capital foster a conducive environment for business growth and innovation.

9. Durham’s Emerging Entrepreneurship Scene: Durham’s burgeoning entrepreneurship scene positions it as a promising destination for startups, fueled by its supportive ecosystem and strategic initiatives. The city’s collaborative culture and access to resources contribute to the success of new ventures.

10. St. Petersburg’s Thriving Business Community: St. Petersburg rounds off the top 10 with its thriving business community and supportive ecosystem for startups. The city’s strategic advantages and favorable business climate make it an attractive destination for entrepreneurial endeavors.

Despite unprecedented challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Great Resignation, and high inflation, these top Florida cities remain resilient and well-equipped to overcome obstacles, offering promising opportunities for business owners and entrepreneurs alike.

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European Startup Ecosystems Awash With Gulf Investment – Here Are Some Of The Top Investors

European Startup Ecosystem Getting Flooded With Gulf Investments

The Voice Of EU | In recent years, European entrepreneurs seeking capital infusion have widened their horizons beyond the traditional American investors, increasingly turning their gaze towards the lucrative investment landscape of the Gulf region. With substantial capital reservoirs nestled within sovereign wealth funds and corporate venture capital entities, Gulf nations have emerged as compelling investors for European startups and scaleups.

According to comprehensive data from Dealroom, the influx of investment from Gulf countries into European startups soared to a staggering $3 billion in 2023, marking a remarkable 5x surge from the $627 million recorded in 2018.

This substantial injection of capital, accounting for approximately 5% of the total funding raised in the region, underscores the growing prominence of Gulf investors in European markets.

Particularly noteworthy is the significant support extended to growth-stage companies, with over two-thirds of Gulf investments in 2023 being directed towards funding rounds exceeding $100 million. This influx of capital provides a welcome boost to European companies grappling with the challenge of securing well-capitalized investors locally.

Delving deeper into the landscape, Sifted has identified the most active Gulf investors in European startups over the past two years.

Leading the pack is Aramco Ventures, headquartered in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. Bolstered by a substantial commitment, Aramco Ventures boasts a $1.5 billion sustainability fund, alongside an additional $4 billion allocated to its venture capital arm, positioning it as a formidable player with a total investment capacity of $7 billion by 2027. With a notable presence in 17 funding rounds, Aramco Ventures has strategically invested in ventures such as Carbon Clean Solutions and ANYbotics, aligning with its focus on businesses that offer strategic value.

Following closely is Mubadala Capital, headquartered in Abu Dhabi, UAE, with an impressive tally of 13 investments in European startups over the past two years. Backed by the sovereign wealth fund Mubadala Investment Company, Mubadala Capital’s diverse investment portfolio spans private equity, venture capital, and alternative solutions. Notable investments include Klarna, TIER, and Juni, reflecting its global investment strategy across various sectors.

Ventura Capital, based in Dubai, UAE, secured its position as a key player with nine investments in European startups. With a presence in Dubai, London, and Tokyo, Ventura Capital boasts an international network of limited partners and a sector-agnostic investment approach, contributing to its noteworthy investments in companies such as Coursera and Spotify.

Qatar Investment Authority, headquartered in Doha, Qatar, has made significant inroads into the European startup ecosystem with six notable investments. As the sovereign wealth fund of Qatar, QIA’s diversified portfolio spans private and public equity, infrastructure, and real estate, with strategic investments in tech startups across healthcare, consumer, and industrial sectors.

MetaVision Dubai, a newcomer to the scene, has swiftly garnered attention with six investments in European startups. Focusing on seed to Series A startups in the metaverse and Web3 space, MetaVision raised an undisclosed fund in 2022, affirming its commitment to emerging technologies and innovative ventures.

Investcorp, headquartered in Manama, Bahrain, has solidified its presence with six investments in European startups. With a focus on mid-sized B2B businesses, Investcorp’s diverse investment strategies encompass private equity, real estate, infrastructure, and credit management, contributing to its notable investments in companies such as Terra Quantum and TruKKer.

Chimera Capital, based in Abu Dhabi, UAE, rounds off the list with four strategic investments in European startups. As part of a prominent business conglomerate, Chimera Capital leverages its global reach and sector-agnostic approach to drive investments in ventures such as CMR Surgical and Neat Burger.

In conclusion, the burgeoning influx of capital from Gulf investors into European startups underscores the region’s growing appeal as a vibrant hub for innovation and entrepreneurship. With key players such as Aramco Ventures, Mubadala Capital, and Ventura Capital leading the charge, European startups are poised to benefit from the strategic investments and partnerships forged with Gulf investors, propelling them towards sustained growth and success in the global market landscape.

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China Reveals Lunar Mission: Sending ‘Taikonauts’ To The Moon From 2030 Onwards

China Reveals Lunar Mission

The Voice Of EU | In a bold stride towards lunar exploration, the Chinese Space Agency has unveiled its ambitious plans for a moon landing set to unfold in the 2030s. While exact timelines remain uncertain, this endeavor signals a potential resurgence of the historic space race reminiscent of the 1960s rivalry between the United States and the USSR.

China’s recent strides in lunar exploration include the deployment of three devices on the moon’s surface, coupled with the successful launch of the Queqiao-2 satellite. This satellite serves as a crucial communication link, bolstering connectivity between Earth and forthcoming missions to the moon’s far side and south pole.

Unlike the secretive approach of the Soviet Union in the past, China’s strategy leans towards transparency, albeit with a hint of mystery surrounding the finer details. Recent revelations showcase the naming and models of lunar spacecraft, steeped in cultural significance. The Mengzhou, translating to “dream ship,” will ferry three astronauts to and from the moon, while the Lanyue, meaning “embrace the moon,” will descend to the lunar surface.

Drawing inspiration from both Russian and American precedents, China’s lunar endeavor presents a novel approach. Unlike its predecessors, China will employ separate launches for the manned module and lunar lander due to the absence of colossal space shuttles. This modular approach bears semblance to SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy, reflecting a contemporary adaptation of past achievements.

Upon reaching lunar orbit, astronauts, known as “taikonauts” in Chinese, will rendezvous with the lunar lander, reminiscent of the Apollo program’s maneuvers. However, distinct engineering choices mark China’s departure from traditional lunar landing methods.

The Chinese lunar lander, while reminiscent of the Apollo Lunar Module, introduces novel features such as a single set of engines and potential reusability and advance technology. Unlike past missions where lunar modules were discarded, China’s design hints at the possibility of refueling and reuse, opening avenues for sustained lunar exploration.

China Reveals Lunar Mission: Sending 'Taikonauts' To The Moon From 2030 Onwards
A re-creation of the two Chinese spacecraft that will put ‘taikonauts’ on the moon.CSM

Despite these advancements, experts have flagged potential weaknesses, particularly regarding engine protection during landing. Nevertheless, China’s lunar aspirations remain steadfast, with plans for extensive testing and site selection underway.

Beyond planting flags and collecting rocks, China envisions establishing a permanent lunar base, the International Lunar Research Station (ILRS), ushering in a new era of international collaboration in space exploration.

While the Artemis agreements spearheaded by NASA have garnered global support, China’s lunar ambitions stand as a formidable contender in shaping the future of space exploration. In conclusion, China’s unveiling of its lunar ambitions not only marks a significant milestone in space exploration but also sets the stage for a new chapter in the ongoing saga of humanity’s quest for the cosmos. As nations vie for supremacy in space, collaboration and innovation emerge as the cornerstones of future lunar endeavors.

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