Research Partnership explores future technology scenarios at latest meeting

Date posted: September 17, 2021
A busy highway with various digital icons placed over the top

Future technology scenarios, our region’s manufacturing capabilities and the need for green skills in our economy were just some of the topics of conversation at the latest meeting of the Midlands Engine Research Partnership.

The Research Partnership is the Observatory’s forum for our region’s universities where members share responsibility for steering research, collaboration, securing external funding for projects and contributing to key policy reviews and strategy.

Addressing the meeting, Peter Kawalek, Professor of Information Management and Director of the Centre for Information Management at Loughborough University, presented the Discontinuous Innovation in the Midlands Engine (DIME) project which examines possible future technology scenarios, including how the current big digital players might see a reduced role in innovation.

Professor Kawalek also explained how a handful of household name tech firms have come to dominate the economy and are now digitalising other sectors such as automotive, health, logistics and finance.

As these organisations are highly automated and employ relatively few people, this could lead to widening inequality.

Also presenting their work at the meeting, Professor of Economics at Aston Business School Jun Du showcased her research on the need for green skills in the changing economy.

Professor Du noted that the ‘green transition’ represents a combination of challenges and opportunities that are unevenly distributed with the path to a sustainable future at times unclear and fragmented.

A key part of navigating this transition will be the adoption of the skills required by the new greener economy.

This will involve a combination of up-skilling, re-skilling and the creation of new occupations.

This ongoing research will inform the Midlands Engine response to green skills and policy development.

Rounding out the meeting Charlie Hopkirk, Senior Researcher at the Black Country Consortium gave a preview of his work on understanding the future manufacturing capabilities of the Midlands.

The full report will be launched at the Quarterly Economic Briefing on 24 September.

The next meeting of the Research Partnership is scheduled for 1 December from 10:00 to 12:00.

For more information, please contact Midlands Engine at

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