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West Midlands Plan for Growth

Direct competitive funding as part of a business support system

(with stronger strategic relationship management with firms)

Ahead of the expected launch of Government’s Enterprise Strategy later in 2022 and the conclusion of devolution negotiations, the West Midlands is taking the opportunity to reorientate its business support system. The Economic Growth Board provides leadership and decision-making including public, private, university and trade union partners. And the new business support system will be informed by the West Midlands Plan for Growth as it helps align and target investment to drive additional growth. Key elements of the system include:

  • The launch of a new funding model for publicly funded business support with the UK Shared Prosperity Fund replacing EU-funded programmes over the next three years. This gives regional leaders in the West Midlands opportunity to direct priorities and take decisions over the £88 million allocation over the next three years across priorities of;

    • supporting local business,

    • communities and place; and

    • people and skills.

  • The practical ways of enhancing the core Growth Hub offer envisaged by the West Midlands Business Support Review, led by LEPs and Growth Hubs. This includes a shared diagnostic, knowledge hub, significant increase
    in key account management of the region’s 500 most strategically important firms and ways to drive take-up
    of targeted firms. With associated activity examining the configuration of economic functions across the region and the most effective delivery models, this paves the way for the Economic Growth Board to set clear priority outcomes related to the Plan for Growth, linking support offers from the private and public sectors.

    • Securing further direct investment in regional business support programmes like Made Smarter West Midlands and the Creative Growth Programme. Following successful pilot phases, delivered in conjunction with business partners and academic experts, further government investment can see these regionally commissioned and locally delivered programmes extended to more firms, aligned with major national programmes like Help to Grow.

    • The West Midlands Innovation Accelerator, overseen by
      the West Midlands Innovation Board, where the vision is to double public R&D invested in the region by 2030. Announced in the Levelling-Up White Paper, the West Midlands is one

      of three Innovation Accelerators nationwide and will see around £33 million invested in the next three years on applied and translational research to spark commercial growth and bolster the region’s R&D capability and capacity.

    • Working in conjunction with Innovate UK and the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS), new ways of working will build relationships to influence spending by UKRI’s research councils and other Government bodies like the National Institute for Health Research. The intent is for Accelerators to help move places from good to great on applied and translational innovation with a strong commercial opportunity. The Innovation Board has considered analysis about potential areas of focus. It has homed in on clusters emphasised in the Plan for Growth - medical and clean technology, modern housing and sustainable construction - as well as practical steps to develop the region’s R&D capacity and capability so the West Midlands reaps the benefits of Government’s additional £5 billion investment in public R&D by 2025 on the path to reaching 2.4% of GDP by 2030.