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The Midlander 24 - June 2019

Sir John Peace (second left) announces global specialists are supporting EMDC

World-leading experts help to drive East Midlands’ vision forward

Global specialists have been brought in to help supercharge the East Midlands economy and help drive economic growth, bringing thousands of new jobs and prosperity to the region.

The East Midlands Development Corporation (EMDC), which is currently operating in shadow form, has engaged experts in business development, construction, finance and legal after the Government allocated £2 million of funding.

The proposed HS2 station at Toton, East Midlands Airport and the Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station sites have been identified as the region’s most strategically important in building a dynamic regional economy. Find out more

Midlands Engine Ministerial Champion, James Brokenshire MP (centre), at MEIF event

Midlands Engine Investment Fund reaches £50m

The landmark figure, which was announced by Midlands Engine Ministerial Champion, James Brokenshire MP, is a result of making over 150 investments in firms located across the region and includes £19 million of private sector leverage.

Now over a year since its full launch, the £250 million Midlands Engine Investment Fund (MEIF), which is operated by the Government’s British Business Bank, has provided finance to a wide range of firms. The most active sector to receive investment has been manufacturing. Other key areas include; agri-tech, life sciences and transport technologies.

Speaking at the event, Communities Secretary the Rt Hon James Brokenshire MP, said: “An invigorated Midlands Engine is pivotal to our Modern Industrial Strategy. This is why it’s an enormous pleasure to celebrate the contribution the Midlands Engine Investment Fund continues to make in supporting SME businesses to grow, boost the area’s productivity and make the Midlands an even better place to do business.” Find out more

Ignore the East Midlands at your peril, Sir John warns House of Lords

The message from the Midlands Engine Chairman comes in response to a House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee report on HS2 which does not mention Nottingham, Toton, or the East Midlands once in its fifty pages.

Sir John said: "The House of Lords report calls for the full funding of Northern Powerhouse Rail, a catalogue of improvements designed to create a step-change in east-west regional connectivity across the North. However, the Midlands Rail Hub, our flagship plan to enhance the Midlands’ regional connectivity is completely omitted.

"All this report succeeds in doing is promoting the politics of conflict – pitting the capital against the North and whitewashing the Midlands from public consciousness altogether.

Sir John also issued a rallying cry to leaders across the Midlands to "join together and make the case to Government for proper investment in the East Midlands." Find out more

University of Lincoln will use funding to research the use of robotics in food harvesting

Three Midlands universities receive a share of £76m ground-breaking research funding

Aston, Loughborough and the University of Lincoln are amongst thirteen institutions which the Government announced are to receive a share of the Expanding Excellence in Research Fund. The aim of the fund is to boost research that will keep the UK a world leader in science, research and innovation.

Aston University will receive nearly £5.5 million to research the potential of creating a databank of legal text and speech that could be instrumental in legal cases where forensic speech science is used to build a case against an individual.

The University of Lincoln has been awarded nearly £6.5 million to create the world’s first centre of excellence in Agri-Robotics, which will look at how robots can tend, harvest and quality control high-value crops with minimum human intervention.

Whilst Loughborough University will receive just over £6.5 million to study mathematic learning processes to evaluate what educational interventions could boost student success and address the STEM skills gap. Find out more

Coventry named one of the UK’s top exporting cities

Research by the Centre for Cities saw Coventry ranked seventh in the whole of the UK for the total exports per job in 2017 – two places higher than London – with a total export value of £4.7 billion.

The study ‘How do cities trade with the world’ also highlighted how Coventry was one of only a handful of cities outside of the South East to have both above average exports per job and above average productivity.

The study shows that Coventry's biggest export market is China. While 59% of exports from the city are related to road vehicles. Find out more

Maryland Commerce Secretary Kelly M. Schulz signing life sciences agreement

Midlands Engine signs life sciences agreement with Maryland, USA

As part of the agreement, signed by Maryland Commerce Secretary Kelly M. Schulz (pictured) and Sir John Peace, an exchange programme will be developed where UK life sciences companies will visit Maryland to explore the US market for possible expansion, and vice versa.

The agreement follows a delegation of 10 Maryland life sciences companies which visited the Midlands earlier in the year to explore exporting to the UK market.

The Midlands plays a major part in the UK bioscience sector, while Maryland is one of the top states for life sciences in the U.S. with more than 2,300 companies in the region. Find out more

New Loughborough University flood prediction technology will save lives and livelihoods

FloodMap Live, which is underpinned by more than 20 years of academic research by Loughborough University, uses a combination of innovations to deliver accurate, real-time flood nowcasts and forecasts as well as street-level impact analytics.

The data provided by FloodMap Live supports the timely assembly of flood defences – protecting the population and critical infrastructure, while mitigating economic and environmental impacts

Close collaboration between the university and the Cabinet Office, Met Office and Environment Agency has seen successful pilots of FloodMap Live in four UK cities, with further trials planned for a national and global product.  Find out more

Minister for Housing and Homelessness, Heather Wheeler MP (centre), visited a homeless housing scheme in Birmingham

Government announces £13m of funding for new housing in Leicestershire

A £13 million Government grant is set to speed up the creation of over 1,000 new homes in Leicestershire.

Homes England announced that Leicestershire County Council will receive the fiunding to support the development of land in Melton Mowbray, Lutterworth and Snibston in Coalville. Find out more

The news comes as this month the Minister for Housing and Homelessness, Heather Wheeler MP, visited a Midland Heart housing scheme in Birmingham which helps homeless people get on property ladder. Find out more

Birmingham Airport unveils final master plan

The master plan outlines how the airport will develop its site to handle the increase in passenger numbers up to the year 2033 and includes an investment of half a billion pounds that will transform the terminal and customer experience, whilst creating jobs for 34,000 people and generating over £2 billion regional economic benefit.

The final master plan addresses feedback received during a 12 week consultation period which began in the Autumn of 2018. Find out more

Also this month, the Chairs of HS2 and Birmingham Airport met to discuss improved rail and air connectivity. Find out more

Image courtesy of Department for Internal Trade

Export support launched for Lincolnshire SMEs

The Business Lincolnshire Growth Hub has launched a new business support service aimed at helping SMEs move into exporting.

The scheme includes face-to-face advice sessions with an experienced export professional, as well as a series of interactive workshops across the region.

In seven half-day workshops, Business Lincolnshire’s facilitators will introduce SMEs to the importance of exporting for growth, and make sure attendees are as prepared as possible to enter their target market. Find out more

(l - r) NASA's Dr James Polk and Dr Mike Barratt, pictured with University of Birmingham's Dr Alex Sinclair and her researcher

NASA delegation visits University of Birmingham to discuss Mars mission

NASA scientists and astronauts visited the University of Birmingham to discuss how drug discoveries in NHS patients could reduce brain pressure during space travel to allow them to go beyond the Moon.

One of NASA’s missions is to see the first humans set foot on Mars, however microgravity – which causes astronauts to float in space – can have significant physiological effects on the body and can lead to pressure on the brain that can cause visual impairment.

Dr Sinclair and her team at the University of Birmingham are world leading experts in brain pressure, she said: “We were delighted to welcome the NASA team to exchange observations and ideas. We hope this visit will lead to research in collaboration with NASA to help address this important issue that will push the boundaries of human exploration forward to Mars.” Find out more

Boost for careers support in the Midlands Engine

Sir John Peace has welcomed the expansion of a successful model helping to transform careers education across the Midlands.

In September, The Careers & Enterprise Company launched four ‘Careers Hubs’ across the Midlands. Each Hub brings together a group of up to 40 schools and colleges to improve careers support for young people in their area.

They have now announced an expansion to a further seven Careers Hubs across the Midlands. 312 secondary schools and colleges in the Midlands will now benefit from being part of a Careers Hub.

Commenting on the announcement, Sir John, said: High quality careers support and engagement in employers is vital if we’re to secure the next generation of skilled employers who will help drive forward the UK economy.” Find out more

More regional highlights

  • Work to start on £9m Midlands Centre for Cyber Security. Read more 
  • Former Nokia Global Services President appointed West Midlands 5G Board Chairman. Read more 
  • Worcestershire tech firm celebrates Japan expansion. Read more 
  • Design Refinement Consultation launched on HS2 Phase 2b (serving the region). Read more 
  • £23m of improvements for Black Country Living Museum get go-ahead. Read more  
  • One of the world’s major freight transport players opens West Midlands office. Read more 
  • Leicester commercial printer secures £250k of support through MEIF. Read more  
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