In the past few months, we have been working closely with a range of partners to deliver initiatives and events that could make a significant impact on the profile and economic success of the West Midlands. We are also seeing this work translate into tangible results, with announcements around 5G and Channel 4 demonstrating that the region is truly making its mark.
None of this would have been possible without the involvement of our partners, and I look forward to working even more closely with these organisations to ensure that the West Midlands continues its winning streak.
While inward investment continues to vary by sector, we have seen a strong performance in business, professional and financial services (BPFS), particularly firms based in London that are looking for a base outside of the capital.
Our inward investment team has also been working hard to attract more non-departmental public bodies into the region, following in the footsteps of organisations such as HMRC, which is locating to Arena Central in Birmingham.
We recently welcomed the announcement that the West Midlands has made the final stage of the pitch process to host the new national headquarters of Channel 4 (C4). The broadcaster has selected Birmingham, along with Greater Manchester and Leeds, as the three final locations for its new home, as it looks to expand its presence outside of London.
Throughout August, the West Midlands Growth Company has been coordinating the final elements of the C4 pitch process. We’ve worked closely with Birmingham City Council, the Greater Birmingham & Solihull LEP, and the West Midlands Combined Authority to create a strong final bid for the broadcaster.
The C4 team has viewed a number of potential property options and attended two roundtables. The first roundtable comprised leaders from the independent production community, while the second focused on skills and talent, featuring representatives from education and wider industry.
We expect an announcement from C4 on the location of its national HQ and creative hubs in early November.
A £1 million Discover England Fund project is underway to build market share for businesses on and around the Midlands’ canals and rivers. The project – England’s Waterways – is being delivered by the West Midlands Growth Company with a range of local and national partners.
In August, our England’s Waterways project team have focused on supporting the professional development of tourism and culture managers with a workshop to explain distribution networks and getting products to market.
Joining forces with the region’s tourism, arts and hospitality organisations, we are also developing holiday packages for key target markets. This includes working with UK ground handlers and overseas operators, developing promotional campaigns, and building itineraries. Through this business support programme, our regional partners can build new experiences for overseas and domestic visitors.
Drive Midlands Partnership Programme Launch
In September our Drive Midlands initiative, which supports and promotes the region’s automotive industry, launched a new programme for the supply chain within the area. The Drive Midlands Automotive Partnership will provide sector-specific support to local firms, regardless of size. Automotive is a key sector as part of the region’s inward investment strategy.
The Midlands is a world-renowned centre for the automotive sector. Across the region, there are more than 1,300 companies operating within the automotive supply chain, and it is home to 35 of the industry's global top 50 suppliers. The Midlands ranks alongside Poland and Turkey as a top global destination for automotive foreign direct investment.
West Midlands Forum for Growth
For the first time, six of the region’s universities came together at the West Midlands Forum for Growth event to showcase how they are accelerating change through their expertise, innovation and research. Our universities make a vital contribution to the growth of the region, offering leadership and game-changing research in specialist fields.
Academics from six universities (Aston University, Coventry University, Birmingham City University, University of Birmingham, University of Warwick and University of Wolverhampton) exhibited key projects and delivered breakout sessions that focus on the West Midlands Combined Authority’s key growth sectors, advanced technologies and world class expertise. This included:
• High-Tech Medical Devices and Intelligent Healthcare
• Innovative Vehicle Design and Technologies
• Brownfield Regeneration and Clean Growth
• Human-Computer Interaction, Mixed Reality and Robotics
Wolverhampton Business Programme
We supported the annual Wolverhampton Business Programme by hosting a roundtable with leading commercial agents to examine the market opportunities in Wolverhampton.
The City of Wolverhampton is gearing up for a period of unprecedented growth and change. There is a wave of new commercial opportunities on the horizon, and through this discussion we were able to consolidate views on how the city’s economic strategy is viewed and how it could be communicated better. The region’s unrivalled connectivity and its expertise within construction and the built environment were highlighted as long-standing strengths. The city’s canal-side leisure offer was pinpointed as an area for growth potential and exciting, new opportunity.
The team also helped support the wider Business Programme, creating a more regional audience for events, including the Premier Business Breakfast.
The West Midlands Growth Company supported the West Midlands Combined Authority’s bid to the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, for a 5G pilot for the West Midlands.
The bid was a success, with the Government announcing that the West Midlands had been awarded the pilot scheme in September. This could secure up to £125 million of investment into the region’s new digital infrastructure, ahead of a UK wide roll-out. We believe that this will bolster inward investment prospects considerably, particularly within the tech sector.
Digital infrastructure is one of three key factors that tech companies look for within a new location, alongside talent and place. The West Midlands can already make a strong case for talent, affordability and quality of life to tech firms – but 5G will provide a significant boost to our tech infrastructure. Becoming the UK’s home of 5G could give our region the future-facing infrastructure, and a stronger identity, to create a stronger global profile in the tech sector.
MIPIM 2019, the world’s leading property forum, will take place at the Palais des Festivals in Cannes, France, from Tuesday 11 to Friday 15 March 2019.
The West Midlands Growth Company is once again leading the project management and co-ordination of the Midlands UK presence at MIPIM 2019, working in partnership with destination and commercial partners from across the East and West Midlands. Our project team are working hard on the event, and are on track with all of our objectives.
The West Midlands Growth Company has also been commissioned by the West Midlands Combined Authority to co-ordinate a regional presence, for the first time, at MIPIM UK. The event takes place on 17 and 18 October 2018 at London’s Olympia.
A delegation of public sector partners from the West Midlands region – including Coventry, Dudley, Sandwell, Solihull and Shropshire Councils and the West Midlands Combined Authority – will be supporting the West Midlands’ presence at the show, alongside a number of private sector partners.
Members of the West Midlands delegation are scheduled to speak at a range of events across the main conference programme.