New Midlands Engine Partnership report calls on government to boost support for regional business clusters, to drive economic growth

Date posted: May 25, 2023
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  • Report brings together the latest business, talent, innovation and investment data to provide a unique insight into clusters in the Midlands
  • Midlands Medical Technologies cluster calculated to be worth £1.6bn to the UK economy annually
  • Midlands Aerospace cluster home to 7% per cent of Europe’s aerospace industry
  • 20% of the UK’s Agri-tech businesses are clustered in the Midlands

Geographic and sectoral concentrations of interconnected businesses and suppliers – or ‘clusters’ – are increasingly seen as being key to economic growth, with benefits including support networks, economies of scale for businesses, an improved ability to attract and retain high-value skills, a focal point for public and private sector investment, and greater opportunities for innovation.

Both the government’s Levelling Up White Paper and Science Superpower ambitions (articulated through the Science and Technology Framework) highlight the importance of targeting clusters to drive economic growth. ‘Exploring the Investment Potential of Midlands Clusters’ is a new report issued by the Midlands Engine Partnership in response to that call. It advances the discussion of Midlands clusters and the exceptional opportunities for investment and economic growth they represent.

Co-authored by the Data City, Beauhurst, Wavteq, Midlands Engine Observatory and CBI Economics, the report identifies 30 regional clusters and proposes support to help them realise their potential as focal points for investment.

The Midlands Engine Partnership report highlights a range of clusters in which the region has a significant existing business base, talent and innovation. These include: super-clusters such as Transport Technology and Health and Life Sciences; a series of established clusters in fields like MedTech and Aerospace; and new economy clusters such as Space Technology and Agri-tech, that reveal emerging opportunities.

To fully leverage the opportunity presented by these clusters, Midlands Engine partners have pinpointed four steps for the government to take.

  • Fund local partners to form ‘Cluster Development Companies’: clusters thrive with dedicated, focused support
  • Improve the evidence-base for clusters through the establishment of a national programme of research and analysis, including a toolkit and open-access data for local organisations to aid better policymaking
  • Simplify the inward investment landscape and increase support for ‘product development’ and ‘concierge services’ to attract investment into clusters.
  • Work with universities to develop an integrated approach to foreign direct investment into Research & Development

Alongside the request for government support, the Midlands Engine Partnership will use the report as a starting point for a two-year programme of engagement with partners, policymakers and researchers.

This work has the wider aim of supporting regional partners, businesses and the UK government to better understand and develop clusters across the Midlands. It will begin with a series of ‘cluster snapshots’, providing regional organisations with the data and regional context needed to help frame local opportunities.

Sir John Peace, Chairman, Midlands Engine, said of the report:

“The Midlands has long been a powerhouse of industry and innovation. From our heritage as the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution to the diverse and dynamic region that’s home to 11 million people, the Midlands seizes the opportunities of each new age with ingenuity and enterprise.

 

“As Midlands Engine partners continue to accelerate growth in our region, there is increasing recognition that economic clusters are a key part of our collaborative efforts to build on our exceptional sector strengths, boost productivity, and attract inward investment. The recommendations in this report provide a powerful framework through which government can act to accelerate and magnify this process.”

For further information visit: https://www.midlandsengine.org/sector/global/

To read the full Clusters report visit: https://bit.ly/41HtCFj

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