Skip to main content

West Midlands Plan for Growth

Transport and infrastructure fund

Cluster growth depends on companies competing and collaborating around shared commercial interests. Those places that offer the best infrastructure for collaboration see the strongest cluster growth, which gives the greatest returns. The West Midlands is continuing its work to secure public and private investment to deliver that world-class transport, energy and digital infrastructure which will underpin growth across the region’s primary and nascent clusters:

  • Following the #WM2041 commitment to be net zero carbon in less than two decades, energy and a sustainable environment is a non-negotiable regional priority. Through the Trailblazer Devolution Deal under negotiation with government, we are seeking practical support for local energy planning so the West Midlands can invest in zero carbon, reliable and competitively priced energy. This change provides a commercial opportunity too, as firms in target Plan for Growth clusters adapt processes and workforces to integrate new supply, with needs for complementary support on future skills and competitive business support.

After securing the WM5G programme in 2019, the West Midlands has become the best connected 5G region in the country. The Levelling-Up White Paper committed Government and the WMCA to build upon this with the West Midlands Smart City Region proposal which will drive UK-leading digital connectivity by using sensors, data and connectivity to optimise, and then transform, supply and demand in related Plan for Growth clusters across:

  • Health and social care – with smart prevention, diagnosis and monitoring.
  • Transport – by smart infrastructure management on road and rail networks.
  • Energy – with an advanced energy simulator to allow deep understanding of energy consumption to improve management of energy distribution.
  • The WMCA is in the process of securing a partner to champion the region’s digital economy, spearheaded by a new Tech Commissioner, and by supporting an international network of tech ambassadors with links to the West Midlands. The partnership will shape use of the Co-Invest Fund and digital workspaces to meet the digital needs of priority and nascent clusters.

Creating conditions for cluster growth also depends on getting local transport and public realm infrastructure to work well so customers, workers and goods move around efficiently. The £4.8 billion national Levelling-Up Fund provides local authorities with funding to lead those changes, working in conjunction with MPs and local businesses. Early examples of projects in the West Midlands secured by local authorities that are supporting growth in key clusters include:

  • Birmingham - £20 million for the A457 Dudley Road Improvement Scheme, upgrading junctions, new bus lanes, new segregated cycle routes, widened footways and a new footbridge which, for example, helps connect a major hospital with medical technology assets.
  • Wolverhampton - £20 million for the City Learning Quarter so 45,000 people can develop skills in excellent facilities and 7,500 apprentices start in businesses over the next 10 years, linked to the economic priorities in the region.

At the regional level, the West Midlands is the UK’s first Future Transport Zone, enabling rapid scaling up of new transport system solutions focused on travellers across all major urban centres in the UK. The Zone will trail new transport technologies and services which supports the logistics and distribution cluster in particular and also underpins all Plan for Growth activity by connecting business to wider labour markets. In this vein, Transport for West Midlands (TfWM) has recently updated the local transport plan to take account of major changes

in technology and behaviour. As well as improving accessibility and reducing traffic across the region, the plan drives the electrification of transport which relates to cluster opportunities. It has helped secure further game-changing investment, including over £1 billion from Government’s Sustainable Transport Settlement to install 1,000 electric vehicle charging points as well as ultra- fast charging facilities for electric heavy goods vehicles, vans and buses. By investing in new strategic transport connectivity like the University Station, the multi-billion West Midlands Investment Programme is providing clusters like med-tech with the connectivity they need to grow.