Day two of the landmark Midlands UK Forum For Growth was a chance to shine the spotlight on projects across the region as schemes such as the Leicester Space Park, the University of Wolverhampton’s School of Architecture and the Built Environment and the University of Lincoln’s Science and Innovation Park took centre stage.
The virtual event, led by Midlands Engine, has gathered investors from across the world and is showcasing £17.6 billion of investment opportunities across housing, connectivity, regeneration, technology and green energy within the Midlands.
With collaboration the theme for day two, the focus for the 500 attendees shifted towards key sectors across the region with presentations on the industrial and logistics market, and residential and commercial property, as well as how the public and private sector can work together more effectively.
There were also excellent panel discussions throughout the day with a variety of topics covered.
At one such discussion focusing on public and private collaboration, Simon Marks, City Executive for Birmingham at Arcadis, commented on the positive collaboration between the two sectors and how this gives the market confidence:
The response of the public sector has been incredible. The pace at which they’ve stepped up has been amazing. That’s really encouraging for the real estate sector.
At the heart of a region is its people and, in particular from an investment point of view, its workforce, ensuring they have the skills to meet the future needs of business is vital for the future prosperity of the region.
Marion Plant OBE, Principal and Chief Executive of North Warwickshire and South Leicestershire College, speaking at the panel on skills and education was clear in where focus should be placed:
I want to see investment in all age-groups in digital upskilling. Capital to create industry-specific world-class facilities in which people can learn. We do have to look at the harder to reach groups across the Midlands.
With day one focused more on regions, day two highlighted specific projects to investors which will deliver sustainable growth to the region.
Leicester Space Park is a state-of-the-art centre for science, innovation and commercial infrastructure and, with the global space market predicted to grow by 80% to £400 billion by 2030, regional growth in this sector is five times the UK average.
William Wells from the University of Leicester in delivering his presentation on the site said:
There is a really clear growth opportunity, driven by the fact that space is a fast-moving and dynamic growing industry. There’s a requirement to deliver on infrastructure, which is the opportunity at Space Park.
Infinity Park, located just outside Derby, is a 100-acre enterprise zone site dedicated to nurturing high-tech manufacturing. Amongst the businesses already operating from the site is the iHub, a centre for supply chain innovation in transport engineering and there are plans for a Manufacturing Research Centre to be constructed on the site by the Nuclear AMRC.
Universities also play a key role in bringing forward key opportunities for investment and several were on show on day two of the Forum.
Loughborough University showcased their Enterprise Park which contributes to over 14,000 jobs and £900 million to the local economy whilst the University of Lincoln presented to delegates its Science and Innovation Park.
Finally, the University of Wolverhampton unveiled its proposed £100 million School of Architecture and Built Environment; a new 12-acre campus which when complete will become the largest construction-focused campus in Europe.
With digital infrastructure an integral part of the region’s future prosperity, Ian Martin, Investment and Commercial Activities Director at West Midlands 5G, highlighted the technology as a growth enabler:
5G will transform business. 4G primarily focused on the consumer, whilst 5G will offer more to business.
There were also informative presentations from inward investment agencies from Warwickshire, Greater Lincolnshire, Solihull and the City of Wolverhampton, showcasing key investment opportunities at a local level.
The entire conference will be made available on -demand after the event via the Midlands UK Forum for Growth website.