Midlands Universities join forces to attract global investment into world-leading creative and digital industries

Date posted: January 24, 2024
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An image of the cover of the Creative & Digital Investment Prospectus alongside block text reading 'Universities as Drivers of Foreign Direct Investment' and the logos of Midlands Engine, Midlands Innovation and Midlands Enterprise Universities

Today, the Midlands Engine Partnership, Midlands Innovation and Midlands Enterprise Universities have launched a new Midlands University Investment Prospectus for the Creative and Digital Industries to help partners attract international investment into R&D and innovation across the region.

The Universities and Creative and Digital Industries in the Midlands Investment Prospectus was unveiled during a visit to Nottingham by Professor Christopher Smith, International Champion for UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and Executive Chair of Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and Professor Tom Crick, the Chief Scientific Adviser (CSA) at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). The report was launched at visited Nottingham Trent University’s Confetti X Studios and the University of Nottingham Virtual Immersive Production Lab and University’s new Castle Meadow Campus.

The focus on Creative and Digital Industries joins four other sector Investment Prospectuses launched late last year alongside the Prime Minister’s UK Global Investment Forum. They have been supported by the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology, UK Research and Innovation, the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities and the GREAT Campaign. A key part of the flagship Universities as Drivers of Foreign Direct Investment programme, these prospectuses form the basis of a new campaign to promote R&D investment in the region to investors in the USA, Germany, Australia, Singapore, and South Korea. This will include inbound and outbound investment missions that leverage universities international research, partnerships and alumni networks.

Group of people around a table listening to a talk at the recent launch of the Digital & Creative prospectus

Professor Chris Smith (L) and Professor Tom Crick at the recent launch of the Digital & Creative prospectus

Creative and Digital Industry R&D Clusters

The universities of the Midlands provide the foundation for an internationally significant concentration of creative and digital research and translation. Across the region, there are over 14,000 creative businesses that support almost 60,000 jobs from esports to film production. The prospectus features independent research from Metro Dynamics and The Data City that highlights three key clusters in the Midlands where with R&D and innovation-active companies in the creative and digital industries are co-located and working with universities. These are:

  • Video games in Coventry, Warwick and Leamington Spa
  • Film and media in Birmingham
  • Immersive tech in Nottingham and the East Midlands

Beyond these clusters, the Midlands is also home to a diverse range of pan-regional CDI sectors with strong links to the investment potential of university R&D and the talent eco-system they inspire. These sectors include:

  • Fashion and textiles
  • Art and design 
  • Music and dance

Event celebrating launch of the Creative & Digital brochure

Professor Christopher Smith, UK Research and Innovation International Champion and Executive Chair of the Arts and Humanities Research Council said:

‍”The creative industries are an outstanding example of where human imagination and innovation drives technological advance and economic growth. Arts and humanities are not simply beneficiaries of R&D, they are the fertile ground in which invention, design and application come together. This University Investment Prospectus – the first of its kind in the UK – brilliantly showcases the outstanding opportunity for international business and investors to come to the Midlands. There they will immediately benefit from access to the eco-system of innovation, collaboration and world-class facilities, talent and technology that emanate from our great universities. We will continue to invest in the creative industries as they deliver on opportunities to invest in UK university R&D to markets across the world, and bring benefit back to the UK, including here in the Midlands..”

Roger Mendonca, CEO of Midlands Engine said:

“From fashion to immersive technology, the Midlands excels not only in the creative industries but the research and innovation that underpins them. This prospectus showcases the region’s significant creative and digital capability for the first time. The Midlands Engine Partnership is proud to support this initiative and the subsequent efforts to drive high-value investment into the Midlands, championing our region’s world-leading innovation centres on the global stage.”

Professor Karen Holford CBE, Chief Executive and Vice-Chancellor of Cranfield University and Chair of Midlands Innovation said:

“Universities across the Midlands have blazed a trail for the UK Higher Education sector in working together to showcase a collective offer to help our regional economy attract international investment into R&D and the jobs of the future that come with this. The Creative and Digital Industries are not only one of our five key sectors in the region, but also underpin the way universities support invention and innovation across the rest of our economy.

The research that underpins the Investment Prospectus launched today highlights the distinctive Midlands “industrial fusion” between university and business partnerships in the creative and digital industries – in particular in emerging technologies such as immersive technology and gaming – with those companies working in our region’s more established industries such as transport technologies.

Our offer to international companies looking to invest or set-up in the region is simple. Universities across the Midlands work collaboratively to share resources, access funding and attract world-leading researchers. Our collaboration, complementarity and connections can become your competitive advantage”

Download the prospectus here

Midlands Innovation (MI) is a partnership of eight research-intensive universities in the Midlands region of England: Aston University, University of Birmingham, Cranfield University, Keele University, University of Leicester, Loughborough University, University of Nottingham, and University of Warwick

Midlands Enterprise Universities (MEU) is a group of universities with a common mission to support economic growth and innovation in the region. These are Birmingham City University, Coventry University, De Montfort University, Nottingham Trent University, Staffordshire University, University of Derby, University of Lincoln, and University of Wolverhampton. MEU offers a wide range of programs and initiatives to support students, researchers, and entrepreneurs in the Midlands.

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