Midlands Engine leads efforts to make UK world leader in 5G

The Government has announced the Midlands winners of a £25 million competition to pave the way for a future roll-out of 5G technology in the UK.

The new project, the Worcestershire 5G Consortium, is receiving £4.8 million of government funding. In addition a further two of the project consortiums, receiving a total of over £6 million, also include partners based in the Midlands Engine.

5G is the next generation of mobile technology and is expected to have a profound impact on the global economy.

Following its launch next month, the Worcestershire 5G Consortium will begin the country’s most comprehensive industrial 5G test bed trials with a team of 5G specialists and business experts pioneering the concept of ‘Industry 4.0’.

The test beds will keep the Midlands Engine at the forefront of connectivity by accelerating the deployment of next generation digital infrastructure, driving forward new 5G business opportunities, and developing a home-grown 5G skills base.

Sajid Javid, Housing Secretary and Ministerial Champion for the Midlands Engine, said: "It’s clear that the region is at the forefront of innovation and growth. The announcement of this ground-breaking project will unlock the Midlands’ 5G future and ensure the benefits of this new technology are felt across the region."

Sir John Peace, Chairman of Midlands Engine, said: "Placing the Midlands at the forefront of digital innovation is just one of the ways the Midlands Engine is aiming to create economic growth across the region."

Mark Stansfeld, Chair of Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership and 5G lead for Midlands Engine, said: "At a time of increasing global competition for trade and investment, we are confident that we can act as a catalyst for technological innovation in the wider Midlands Engine and nationally."

Click here for further information.

UK growth forecast raised (British Chambers of Commerce) as wages grow and unemployment falls (ONS)

The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) has raised its UK growth forecast for 2018 from 1.1% to 1.4% and in 2019 from 1.3% to 1.5%. Its first forecast for 2020 is for 1.6% growth.

The BCC state the rise is driven by slightly stronger than expected consumer spending and it says the UK's export performance is expected to remain robust on the back of strong global growth.

It also predicts that the next increase in UK official interest rates, to 0.75%, will occur in the second quarter of 2018, followed by another rise in the first quarter of 2019. Click here to read further information about the BCC forecast.

Meanwhile, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has revealed its latest data which shows that wage growth has increased and the unemployment rate has edged lower.

The ONS said that compared with the previous year, earnings grew by 2.6% for the three months to the end of January. That is up from 2.5% in the previous quarter, and the unemployment rate lowered to 4.3% from 4.4%. Click here to read further information about the ONS statistics.

Value of exports in the East Midlands shows the biggest rise of any UK area

Statistics released by HMRC show that the value of exports in the East Midlands rose by 23% from £17.7 billion in 2016 to £21.8 billion in 2017. While in the West Midlands it rose from £29.7 billion to £33.6 billion, which sees it ranked in the top six regions across the UK.

The East Midlands is home to more than 10,000 exporters with an average value per exporter of £2 million, while the national picture shows that exports of goods from England increased by 11.6% to £244.8 billion. The percentage increase in the East Midlands was higher than that reported in London, Scotland and of any other UK region. 

Ian Harrison, Director of Exports, at the Department for International Trade in the East Midlands, said: “HMRC’s latest figures, which cover the full first year since the EU referendum, demonstrate the appetite for British goods abroad and the potential for businesses who want to expand overseas. They back-up the experience of the many companies in the East Midlands we work with daily that are already feeling the benefits of increased global trade and finding success in other markets."

The HMRC statistics are also reflected in the latest export figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) which show that UK exports rose by 11.5% to £625.9 billion in the year from February 2017 to the end of January 2018.

The ONS statistics also show the country’s service sector continues to thrive with exports up by 10.1% to £281.4 billion. While goods exports also rose strongly by 12.6% to £344.5 billion, with strong manufacturing figures leading the way in making the biggest contribution to this growth.

Click here to see the HMRC data on number of goods exporters and value of goods exports for the UK regions.

Midlands UK presents its success story to thousands at MIPIM 2018

The Midlands UK Pavilion welcomed more than 4,700 visitors at world's largest real estate show, MIPIM. This was a 57% increase on 2017’s figure.

More than 50 events were hosted, including panel discussions and showcase presentations, featuring almost 100 speakers. The refreshed Midlands' Investment Portfolio was launched and highlighted 26 of the region’s most exciting investment-ready projects, worth a combined £11 billion.

Sir John Peace, Chair of the Midlands Engine, commented: “MIPIM provides the Midlands with a huge opportunity to showcase the region’s most valuable investment schemes potentially generating thousands of jobs and significant economic growth."

To read more about the Midlands UK successful MIPIM presence click here.

Sir John Peace also spoke to Insider Media at MIPIM, as part of the interview he said: "What MIPIM shows is that businesses in the Midlands can collaborate extremely well and that's what the Midlands Engine can encourage.

“The Midlands can create jobs and grow the economy before and after Brexit and we are in a fantastic position to do that." To read the full interview click here.

UPS invests more than £100m in the Midlands to create new freight terminal

UPS, which is a global leader in shipping and logistics, has chosen to invest £114 million to create a new freight terminal across a 28.5-acre site at East Midlands Airport.

The airport is already the UK's largest freight terminal outside of Heathrow, and the project to create a new terminal on the site would make it one of the biggest projects UPS has ever undertaken globally.

Planning permission to build the new terminal, which is expected to create over 1,000 jobs, has been given the go ahead.

The Midlands plays a crucial national role in supporting the movement of freight across the country with 33% of British heavy road freight going to / from or through the Midlands, while 4/5 main UK rail freight routes travel through the Midlands.

Click here for more details on this story.

Midlands Engine will drive visitor numbers to Coventry City of Culture 2021

That was the message delivered by Sir John Peace to the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce’s Trade Expo this month.

Sir John, pictured with Louise Bennett, Chief Executive of the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, and Fleur Sexton, the managing director of PET-Xi, said: “The Midlands Engine partners can drive footfall to Coventry from right across the Midlands and beyond, which would have a positive impact on the city and the rest of the region during 2021.

“The tourism and cultural assets of the Midlands already contribute over £8 billion a year to our economy and act as a powerful magnet. As the UK’s transport hub, with excellent international connections, over 90% of the UK population is within four hours’ travel time to the Midlands.

“The city was a deserving winner of the title and a successful year for Coventry, would be a successful year for the Midlands.” To read more about Sir John's visit to the trade expo click here.

Coventry 2021 be the UK's next City of Culture, following Hull, which held the title in 2017. A report highlighting the positive impact on Hull and the wider Humber region's economy as a result of the UK City of Culture status, which gives an indication of the positive benefit which Coventry and the rest of the Midlands could expect, is outlined here.  

Thirteen midlands companies feature on Britain’s fastest growing SME exporter's list

The 4th annual Sunday Times Lloyds SME Export Track 100 league table, which ranks Britain’s small and medium-sized private companies with the fastest-growing international sales, has been released.

Thirteen companies, which are headquartered in the Midlands, appear in the table having grown their international sales by an average of 96% a year over two years to a total of £104 million. Combined, the companies employ 1,400 people.

The Midlands is also home to two companies which are placed in the top three nationally – UNiDAYS and Mercato – and both are new entrants onto the league table.

For further details on the Midlands' firms which feature in the Sunday Times Lloyds SME Export Track 100 league table, click here.  

Regional Highlights 

Birmingham picks up Commonwealth Games baton from the Gold Coast

The official Birmingham 2022 handover ceremony, which will see young people and artists from the city perform as part of the closing ceremony of the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games, will take place on Sunday 15 April 2018.

Film maker Daniel Alexander (pictured), is one of the artists who will feature in Birmingham’s handover ceremony, part of which will be performed live from Australia's Gold Coast, and part live from Birmingham. The global televised audience for the ceremony is estimated to be one billion.

Read more

Toyota to build new Auris model in Derbyshire

The new third generation hatchback will be made at Toyota's plant in Burnaston, with Toyota Motor Europe President and Chief Executive, Johan van Zyl, making the announcement during a visit to the factory. He stated: "As a company, we are doing what we can to secure the competitiveness of our UK operations as a leading manufacturing centre for our European business.

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New Government approach to rail funding a 'massive opportunity' for Midlands Connect

Commenting on the new approach, Midlands Connect Director, Maria Machancoses, said: “The Government’s new approach is an endorsement of the work Sub-national Transport Bodies like Midlands Connect are doing to get the right options early, and should make it easier for regional voices and businesses to achieve the improved services we desperately need, particularly on our flagship rail project, the Midlands Rail Hub."

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Midlands hosts Commonwealth delegates to discuss further trade and investment opportunities

The Department for International Trade (DIT) and Midlands Engine hosted the event, which included representatives from 18 Commonwealth nations, as a precursor to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Summit meeting being hosted by the UK in April.

The event provided businesses with an opportunity to network with representatives from Commonwealth countries and discuss future trade and investment opportunities. Sir John Peace, pictured above speaking at the event, outlined the strong and growing trade and investment relationship the Commonwealth and the Midlands share.

Read more about DIT export support available to businesses in the East Midlands and West Midlands.
Plans to extend world-renowned Leicestershire vehicle technology park could create 1,000 jobs

MIRA Technology Park is the UK’s leading automotive technology park. It launched its Southern Manufacturing Sector, which would extend the existing world-renowned site by a further 92 acres, at MIPIM 2018.

The site offers automotive manufacturing and R&D businesses a unique opportunity to work alongside leading global transport technology companies with facilities already at the site, including; Aston Martin, Bentley, Honda, Toyota and Jaguar Land Rover.

Read more

In other news...

  • Midlands Connect unites with country's sub-national transport bodies to call for greater influence in major road network consultation. Read more
  • Derby's Roll-Royce factory secures major contract for Hinkley PointRead more
  • Unprecedented global demand for products lead JCB to create 600 jobs in Staffordshire and DerbyshireRead more
  • Rolls-Royce in Derby lands engine deal worth hundreds of millions of pounds. Read more
  • Midlands organisations invited to take part in the Government's Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund. Read more

Upcoming events...

Visit the Midlands Engine website for a full events listing for April onwards, where you can also register an event to be included in the list. Click here