2018-12/australia

It’s been a busy year in the inward investment calendar for business development activities to drive foreign direct investment (FDI) opportunities into the region, with the West Midlands Growth Company involved in no fewer than 14 sales missions undertaken by the team to key international markets.

The European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) ‘Investing in Greater Birmingham’ programme, which is allocated by the European Union and aims to strengthen economic and social cohesion throughout the EU regions focuses on supporting foreign small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) who are investing in the Greater Birmingham area.

The programme has been a particular focus for the team to support and attract overseas owned SMEs who wish to establish operations in the Greater Birmingham and Solihull area, with most recently a sales mission to Australia in early November.

Australia has been a key target market in the programme with a predominantly SME business base aligned to strategic sector capabilities and opportunities in the West Midlands, including tech and digital, fintech, life sciences and low carbon technologies. With strong historical, business and cultural ties to the UK, innovative SMEs who can quickly achieve success in the relatively small domestic market in Australia show strong propensity to internationalise, giving a strong enquiry pipeline for the programme.

With the asset of in-market lead generation representation based in Sydney (the only English region to have this) and a well-qualified, intelligence-led investment enquiry pipeline through this, the latest sales mission had a specific focus on progressing active investment leads towards investment location decisions.

The week’s programme was focussed on key hotspots of Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney with a meetings programme engaging with 15 companies, six of whom committed to investing in the UK in 2019, where Greater Birmingham is a credible location option. Companies looking to invest range from medtech to fintech and those offering digital solutions to the professional services sector. The region is proving highly attractive to such companies based on key factors, including: 

  • the strength of our talent pool 
  • central location to service the UK market
  • ease of access to London but without the cost
  • new market opportunities of the 5G testbed and HS2
  • investment in relevant technology centres of excellence including our universities

In addition, a number of investment leads were progressed to a more developed stage for the West Midlands Growth Company’s team to be targeting further in 2019.

The sales mission provided an opportunity to build on the successful visit to Australia earlier in the year by the Mayor of the West Midlands, building on already strong relationships with important intermediaries and networks at state and sector level, and collaboration with our national partner, the Department for International Trade across their posts in Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney. 

With the Birmingham Commonwealth Games in 2022 following on from the Gold Coast Games in Australia this year, wider opportunities continue to emerge with the West Midlands Growth Company committed to developing and supporting further inward investment from Australian companies looking to the UK.

David Fisken
Head of Business Attraction