THE economic backdrop is difficult but a whistlestop verbal tour of all that is going on in Glasgow from Stuart Patrick signals he has good reason for optimism.

The Glasgow Chamber of Commerce chief executive flags the opportunities for a major boost to the economy from the development of innovation districts around key specialisms, including those of the city’s universities.

He cites as examples the University of Glasgow’s expertise in precision medicine, and the University of Strathclyde’s specialism in quantum photonics.

Mr Patrick highlights the technological advancement of Glasgow’s economy, and this is certainly something that can be seen on the ground.

He notes part of the challenge will be in changing perceptions of the city. This is true but Glasgow has a different feel about it these days. And it seems to be enjoying success in harnessing the expertise of its academic sector.

There is much more to be done but the direction of travel is the right one.

Mr Patrick also highlights lower unemployment in Glasgow than the city is used to, which is obviously a good thing. He also notes relatively low youth unemployment.

Glasgow faces big challenges, mainly not of its own making.

Online shopping will have implications for retail space requirements, and Mr Patrick is right to flag the importance of persuading more people to live in the city centre.

The biggest challenge is probably Brexit. The UK’s departure from the European Union raises a question-mark over its ability to attract future inward investment – something that hangs over the whole country.

Mr Patrick is right to note sterling weakness makes it cheaper for overseas companies to invest in Glasgow. He is correct to flag the strength of the city’s graduate workforce. But the Brexit effect looms large.

And we must not underestimate the role played by people from other EU countries in Glasgow’s academic sector prowess.