Science and innovation could be a driving force behind the continuing economic renaissance of the West Midlands, a new report published today has concluded.
The West Midlands Science and Innovation Audit (SIA) gives a detailed picture of local strengths and opportunities and outlines how partners such as Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) and the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) can help to unleash the potential.
Funded by the three West Midlands LEPs - Coventry and Warwickshire, Greater Birmingham and Solihull, and Black Country - the results of the SIA will be outlined at Venturefest West Midlands on June 27 which will bring together more than 700 entrepreneurs, innovators and investors at the NEC.
Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, will be the opening keynote speaker and will focus on how leaders in the region can play their part in driving economic growth through innovation.
Andy said: “The SIA is really important piece of work as it sets out the market strengths the West Midlands enjoys in key sectors where we have a competitive advantage in the future.
“For example, these include some of the advanced engineering industries such as driverless and battery vehicle manufacture and design. This is where world-class innovation organisations like the Warwick Manufacturing Group and Manufacturing Technology Centre and tier one producers like Jaguar Land Rover have established a leadership role, meaning we are currently in a race with Germany and the United States to be the global leader in this sector.
“It also includes technologies for health, where our diverse, young population gives us a unique advantage in terms of clinical testing, meaning the West Midlands can be at the front of research that can save lives.
“And digital and data as an enabling competence – which I believe is the glue that holds all of our sectors together. The Digital and Tech sector has been responsible for almost a third of all inward investments into the West Midlands since 2010 and employs some 70,000 people.
“Perhaps most importantly, the report gives us the evidence we need to stimulate and steer action and investment by the West Midlands Combined Authority and partners. With the right interventions, innovation can substantially contribute to both productivity gains and the effective reform of public services.”
Jonathan Browning, chairman of Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP), said: “The Science Innovation Audit is a timely report that evidences the region’s world-renowned science and innovation assets, particularly in areas such as next generation transport, energy, sustainable construction and health technologies, underpinned by expertise in advanced manufacturing & engineering, digital and systems integration.
“Supported by the Coventry and Warwickshire, Greater Birmingham and Solihull, and Black Country LEPs, the report provides us with strong recommendations to deploy our innovation assets and ecosystem to boost our productivity and I’m pleased that local businesses, universities and local authorities can now use this work to identify further opportunities for future growth and investment.”
The West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) and its three partner LEPs have worked together with Birmingham Science City to produce this report. It is a supplementary West Midlands report to the Midlands Engine Science and Innovation Audit published last year as part of the first wave of Government-backed SIAs.
The West Midlands SIA comes in a year which has seen a dramatic increase across the UK in the profile of science and innovation as a key driver of productivity and its potential to improve the way our public services are delivered. A recent wave of reports and strategies that have brought this front and centre in the minds of business, policy makers and other science and innovation stakeholders, including the Government’s Industrial Strategy Green Paper and the CBI report ‘Now is the Time to Innovate’.