The Midlander 22 - April 2019

Midlands businesses named in prestigious Queen's Awards

More than 20 Midlands businesses are celebrating after been recognised in the country's highest business honours.

Now in its 53rd year, the Queen’s Awards for Enterprise has this year seen 201 UK businesses receive awards for their contribution in four categories; international trade, innovation, sustainable development and promoting opportunity.

Amongst the Midlands winners are:

  • Aviation News in Staffordshire which specialises in aviation finance and leasing.
  • Nottingham-based Microlise Group which creates technological solutions to monitor vehicle performance, location and driver behaviour.
  • CMS Cepcor in Coalville which manufactures and supplies engineered components for the mining and quarrying industries.
  • Ezidock Systems from Kirkby-in-Ashfield which designs and manufactures systems and packaging for the safe handling of chemicals and pharmaceuticals.

For a full list of recipients, including those from the Midlands, click here

Midlands businesses can enter next year's awards from 1st May. Find out more

Key appointments and HQ announced by Birmingham 2022   

Plans to deliver the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games have taken exciting steps forward with the appointment of two experienced figures and the selection of the organisation's headquarters.

When the Commonwealth Games are held in Birmingham they are expected to watched by more than a billion people around the world, putting the Midlands front and centre on the world's stage.  

Two new key appointments have been made to help with the preparations for one of the world's biggest sporting events with Josie Stevens named as the New Chief Marketing and Communications Officer. Josie has worked on five Olympic Games, three Cricket World Cups and at the 2006 Doha Asia Games. 
While Martin Green CBE, has been appointed as Chief Creative Officer. Martin was head of ceremonies for London 2012 and more recently led Hull’s City of Culture team. He was also behind the Birmingham 2022 handover celebration at the Gold Coast 2018’s Closing Ceremony. Read more here.

The news of the appointments comes as the Birmingham 2022 team have selected the location for their headquarters. Find out more.

Potentially the 'biggest regeneration scheme in the UK' gets the go-ahead in Nottingham

Plans to redevelop a high-profile 40-acre site to the south of Nottingham city centre, known locally as the Boots Island site, have been given the green light by Nottingham City Council.

Conygar Investment Company PLC intends to transform the site include creating new homes, grade A office space, creative market space, a five-star hotel, retail units, a ‘linear’ park and community space.

The landmark decision will see hundreds of jobs created, strengthening the local economy and helping to elevate Nottingham as one of the UK’s key regional cities for investors and employers. Find out more.

Govenor Xu Dazhe of Hunan Province with Sir John Peace

Midlands Engine signs strategic agreement with China’s Hunan Province

The agreement is expected to further strengthen economic and trade cooperation between the Midlands and this part of China, building on links which are already established between businesses and organisations in the two regions.

Hunan is China’s seventh most populated province with over 68 million residents, on a par with the UK and France, and with a GDP that would place it as the 23rd largest globally if it were a country – offering up enormous potential for collaboration and partnership.

The agreement signed will support companies looking to access markets in Hunan, and open pathways for investment into the country in sectors such as advanced manufacturing, automotive, agri-tech, and life sciences. Find out more.

Nottingham Station (pictured) is one of the stops on the East Midlands rail franchise

New operator appointed for East Midlands rail franchise

The Government has announced Abellio as the successful bidder of the East Midlands Railway franchise between 2019 and 2027.

Commenting on the announcement, Sir John Peace, Chairman of Midlands Connect, said: "We met with all of the franchise bidders during the process, and Abellio’s vision shows a strong commitment to significantly improve passengers’ experience, with new and improved trains, more seats and more frequent services, upgraded stations and smart ticketing options.

"We are looking forward to working closely with Abellio as we develop our transformational Midlands Rail Hub plans to introduce up to 24 new train services every hour across the East and West Midlands, and prepare to integrate these upgrades with vital new High Speed Two services." Find out more.

Image courtesy of Ginger Snaps and DIT

56 Midlands businesses named export champions

Midlands businesses which have found export success overseas have been recognised as Export Champions by the Department for International Trade (DIT).

The 56 leading exporters have been selected by DIT for their inspirational approach to growing their businesses through exporting and will encourage peers in the region to follow suit. The appointments come at a time when worldwide appetite for British goods continues to grow, with UK exports up 2% in 2018.

Champions will utilise their experience by offering practical advice to other businesses on how to turn exporting ambitions into a reality, and also offer guidance on how DIT can help them break into new markets. Find out more

Nottingham Trent University scopes another University of the Year award

Nottingham Trent University (NTU) has been named ‘University of the Year’ by The Guardian. The award comes after NTU received the coveted Times Higher Education University of the Year 2017 and the influential Times and Sunday Times Modern University of the Year 2018.

The Guardian University of the Year award is based upon performance and improvement in its Guardian University Guide - which saw the university jump 18 places to 16th this year - as well as considering retention of students from low-participation areas and attainment of BME students. Find out more

West Midlands businesses experience early arrival of HS2 benefits

Companies across the West Midlands are benefiting from the HS2 infrastructure project, ahead of its arrival in 2026, by accessing tailored funding streams to grow their businesses and delivering new jobs across the region.

The West Midlands Combined Authority’s HS2 Growth Strategy was created to ensure the region is placed to maximise the benefits accruing from the high-speed rail project. A key part of the strategy is access to finance, enabling businesses to invest in the capabilities required to work with HS2, which will contribute to it achieving its targets of creating an additional £14bn increase in GVA and 104,000 jobs. Find out more

(l - r) Jack Bartlett, Lindsey Randle and Terry Spall from MIRA

MIRA wins top UK science park award

Leicestershire's Mira Technology Park is celebrating after scooping the ‘Setting the Pace’ Award at the UK Science Park Association (UKSPA) Awards.

UKSPA include the UK’s top technology and science parks, and the awards recognise and celebrate their achievements and impact on the wider research and development (R&D), science and innovation ecosystem in the UK.

MIRA was recognised for its commitment to providing world-class facilities and exceptional R&D solutions for its tenant companies. It is developing a 2 million sq ft automotive technology cluster.  The park has achieved substantial and sustained growth driven by investment from international automotive companies establishing UK/EU R&D operations there. Find out more

Image courtesy of the University of Lincoln

University of Lincoln and Dudley College named in country's first 12 Institutes of Technology

The Government has announced that the two Midlands further education establishments are amongst the first 12 Institutes of Technology which are being set up to boost young people’s skills.

The institutes will be unique collaborations between universities, further education colleges, and leading employers including Nissan, Siemens and Microsoft. They will specialise in delivering quality higher level technical training in STEM subjects, such as digital, advanced manufacturing and engineering that will provide employers with the skilled workforce they need. 

The two Midlands institutions will each receive a share of £170 million of Government funding for the project so they have access to state-of-the-art equipment and facilities. Find out more

WEA launches innovative English language courses to drive productivity

Adult education charity The WEA will be working with the Midlands Engine and LEPs to pilot a programme to support skilled residents to improve their English to boost skilled employment.

The Midlands Engine has ambitious targets for growth, with many employers identifying skills gaps as key barriers. Employers have told the Midlands Engine that there is a shortage of soft skills, such as language proficiency, which is a significant barrier to recruitment. The recruitment challenge is driving costs and increasing the need to re-design jobs.

The WEA plans to support business through providing accelerated work-centred English language learning and identifying local residents who have the relevant skills to meet the needs of local industry. Find out more

Still time to apply for Strategic Programme Development Fund (SPDF)

Organisations have until the end of April to apply for the Midlands Engine Strategic Programme Development Fund (SPDF).

The purpose of this funding is to help to kick start strategic priority projects for development and initial delivery by providing seed funding to work up projects / concepts and develop business cases.

Further information and an application form can be downloaded from the Midlands Engine website. Find out more

More regional highlights

  • Midlands Universities invest millions to plug NHS skills gap. Read more
  • Official launch of new West Midlands angel investment network. Read more 
  • Black country battery recycling specialist receives £1.5m MEIF boost. Read more 
  • Key elements of Loughborough and Leicester Science and Innovation Enterprise Zone voted through. Read more 
  • Warwickshire pupils learn about construction, engineering and rail industry jobs. Read more 
  • Leicestershire aims to boost sporting economic benefits. Read more 
  • University of Lincoln forges new partnership with Chinese counterpart. Read more
  • Warwickshire tech giant wins Hinkley Point C contract. Read more 
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