In response to a query an online search revealed that in December last year, a government press release was issued, describing the Midlands Engine as a proposal to boost economic growth in the West and East Midlands regions – though it is said to stretch from Wales to the North Sea and the northern Home Counties to the Peak District. Business Secretary Sajid Javid has ministerial responsibility for the proposal.
11 Local Enterprise Partnerships with their local authorities, businesses and the wider partners came together to respond to the Government economic and productivity challenges – supported by a grant from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Department for Communities and Local Government for trade and investment.
A 24 page plan – the Midlands Engine prospectus – was ‘unveiled’ on 4th December 2015 at a special event at Birmingham University. It notes that “advanced manufacturing expertise is the bedrock of the Midlands economy and supports a host of other associated industries and sectors” and intends to develop a Midlands Engine Productivity Improvement Plan and “position the Midlands as a major UK and European gateway to unlock the region’s potential and support growth across every sector”.
Universities and research translation centres will work closely with businesses to bring forward initiatives to turn their science into new technologies, materials and products and create new business opportunities under the title: High Value Manufacturing Catapult.
Midlands Connect is a transport partnership of twenty-eight local authorities, Network Rail, Highways England, Government and the business community, operating across the eleven LEPs. It is mandated to set out a long term transport strategy, to ‘power the Midlands Engine’ and enhance connectivity within, to and from the Midlands
The Midlands Engine organised its first trade mission earlier this year and set out plans for the Midlands, including:
- a £250 million Midlands Engine Investment Fund to provide investment through Access to Finance for small and medium-sized enterprises
- the development of a £60 million Energy Research Accelerator at the University of Nottingham, as well as £2.6 million investment in the Technology Entrepreneurship Centre
- £300 million investment in a High Value Manufacturing Catapult and £45 million for a new Energy Systems Catapult in Birmingham, to attract the most innovative businesses to the region
- £14 million for a new creative innovation centre at Digbeth, the Birmingham STEAMhouse
- multi-million pound investment to ensure the Midlands makes the most of the new High Speed 2 rail links, at Birmingham and at Toton in the East Midlands.
More information on this event: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/sajid-javid-leads-first-ever-midlands-engine-trade-mission