2021-01/neil-rami-high-res

A major programme of activity aiming to showcase the West Midlands as a globally significant destination for international investment, has been launched by the West Midlands Growth Company (WMGC).

The programme, entitled ‘Ready to Go’, marks the first step in provisions for a three year-long, global destination marketing campaign designed to maximise the economic legacy of the region’s upcoming opportunities that include the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games and Coventry as City of Culture 2021. The programme will help establish the West Midlands’ investment potential in Commonwealth and overseas markets that include Australia, Canada, India, Malaysia and North America.

It combines the establishment of a new Capital Investment strategy with appointed advisory partner Avison Young, and the creation of new sector ‘pitch-books’ aimed at targeting foreign direct investment (FDI) across the region’s priority sectors to accelerate post-pandemic economic recovery.

WMGC is appointing a range of established industry leaders to help steer the delivery of Ready to Go across sectors that include; data-driven healthcare, low-carbon technologies, professional & financial services and tech & digital.

The latest appointments include James Turner as Head of Sector Marketing and Keith Miller as Senior Life Sciences Advisor. James, previously Head of Sector Marketing at MIDAS - Manchester’s inward investment promotion agency - has held a variety of roles in international B2B marketing and business development.

Keith was the first life-sciences specialist for the Department for International Trade’s (DIT) Northern Powerhouse and retains his position part-time as Director of Strategic Alliances (Europe) for Molecular Pathology Laboratory Network Inc. Prior to this, Keith spent 28 years in the pharma industry in a variety of commercial roles including Global Marketing Director at AstraZeneca, based in the US.

Neil Rami, Chief Executive at WMGC, the West Midlands’ official Investment Promotion Agency, commented:

“Our shared regional commitment to ‘Build Back Better’ is instrumental to this programme. The pandemic has exposed the fragility of global supply chains and has sharpened the focus – and opportunity – in areas such as automation & digitalisation, reshoring and sustainable development. Ready to Go will explore the region’s competitive potential across these areas, identifying new opportunities to diversify and build resilience across our industry base. 

“As the UK’s leading location outside London for attracting FDI, the West Midlands Growth Company already has a strong track record of translating market interest into projects on the ground with long-term, tangible benefits that include new, high value employment opportunities.  

“Ready to Go will equip our growing, sector-oriented team to build on this success to deliver a refreshed West Midlands investment proposition that is differentiated, technology enabled, carbon cutting and inclusive. Foreign investment has a substantial role to play in supporting post-pandemic recovery.” 

A total of 157 new FDI projects were recorded in the region during the 2019/20 financial year, representing the strongest performance of all UK regions outside of London and the South East, accounting for 8% of the UK’s total projects. Recent investors include ASOS, Lotus Cars, engineering and environmental solutions firm Burns & McDonnell and US professional services consultancy Alvarez & Marsal.

Ready to Go will reinforce this performance, supporting the region’s clusters of expertise, which, despite challenging economic headwinds, have seen a number of advancements as of late. The Black Country has been identified by the government as a strategic location to accelerate the transition to net zero as part of the Industrial Decarbonisation Challenge. Meanwhile, the Department for International Trade’s (DIT) High Potential Opportunities (HPO) programme has declared the West Midlands as critical to the UK’s international competitiveness in Data Driven Healthcare and Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CAV). This year, construction of the new National Brownfield Institute in Wolverhampton will underline the West Midlands as a world leader in construction, regeneration and built environment.

The region’s new Capital Investment strategy aims to source and connect foreign investor demand with capital investment opportunities such as these, unlocking new opportunities for high value employment sites, in addition to critical housing infrastructure. 

James Dair, Principal and Head of Real Estate Finance at Avison Young, added:

“As the property market looks post-COVID and Brexit, it's clear that appetite for international inward investment remains. Potential overseas investors are poised to invest in sectors with strong fundamentals and growth potential, sectors which the West Midlands is rich in. 

"Increasingly, investors are concentrating on specific markets, narrowing the property sectors which they invest in but widening geographic horizons. Just look to the high number of investment vehicles that have emerged in recent years focused on logistics. This trend is now expanding out into areas such as life sciences, environmental, social and governance (ESG) and the fractionalised residential markets, where the West Midlands has strong potential. 

"International investment has delivered significant benefits to the West Midlands in the past, so ensuring that the region can understand the shift in investors' focus and respond to meet these needs will be of vital importance in securing the quality and share of inward investment it deserves. Avison Young’s work with WMGC and partners will ensure that pairing opportunities with those investors best suited to meet the region’s agenda for sustainable and inclusive growth will be able to form a vital component part of this."

The West Midlands Growth Company is aligned to the ambitions set out in the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) Strategic Economic Plan. The company has been established in partnership with Local Enterprise Partnerships, local authorities, universities and a wide range of businesses across the private sector. It focuses its core activities across Greater Birmingham and Solihull, Coventry and Warwickshire and the Black Country.