As the Commonwealth Games opened in Birmingham, UK, two new Commonwealth-sourced foreign direct investment (FDI) projects were announced for the West Midlands, alongside the regional expansion of professional services giant Accenture.
The investments have been made by India’s first plastic credit platform, The Disposal Company, and Canada-based pan-African fintech company, Kora. They were revealed during a presentation at the Commonwealth Business Forum at the International Convention Centre, organised in partnership with the Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council. While athletes prepared for their events, business leaders and government officials gathered to explore how the transition to net zero can stimulate sustainable economic growth through trade, including green investment opportunities, innovative technologies and green finance.
The event also marked the launch of UK House - an eight-day programme of trade and investment talks taking place alongside the Games, brokering new partnerships for sustainable growth.
Both Commonwealth-sourced investments have been secured as a direct result of the Global Growth Programme, a new support package for international companies looking to grow in the UK.
Led by the West Midlands Growth Company* in partnership with the Department for International Trade, the Programme will provide Kora and The Disposal Company with a package of free support, including ‘soft landing’ office space at Bruntwood SciTech’s Innovation Birmingham campus. The Programme also helps UK businesses from the region to get export-ready.
Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “This milestone investment places the West Midlands at the heart of Accenture’s UK growth plans, delivering hundreds of high-value new jobs to meet rising local demand.
“The scale of the firm’s expansion reflects the extent of economic opportunity in the region, with the West Midlands boasting the UK’s largest business hub outside London and largest concentration of cross-cutting industry strengths. Our emerging capabilities in fields including industry 4.0, fintech and low carbon technologies have helped fuel Accenture’s innovation-oriented, client-driven expansion, which includes a shared vision to drive forward the net zero agenda.
“It’s been a pleasure supporting Accenture over recent months, and I’m pleased our activity overseas, led by the Business and Tourism Programme, helped establish our relationship with the firm”.
Andrew Griffith MP, UK Minister for Exports, said: “I’m so pleased to share these new investments, a direct result of the Global Growth Programme, which has helped to showcase the potential of the West Midlands for businesses to invest in. We already have free trade agreements with 33 Commonwealth nations and additional ones that we are currently negotiating will unlock fresh opportunities for further collaboration, particularly in the green industries that are priorities for the UK and our Commonwealth partners.”
Ian Ward, Leader of Birmingham City Council, said: “As we celebrate the start of the Commonwealth Games, these valuable Commonwealth-sourced investments are a sign that the Global Growth Programme is already bearing fruit, underlining Birmingham’s position as an international business hub. I have no doubt that Kora and The Disposal Company will thrive in our city and I look forward to many more growing enterprises choosing to base their UK headquarters here.”
The Disposal Company is India’s first automated plastic offsets platform, dedicated to reducing waste and restoring the planet’s balance. The company’s other solutions include its Plastic Credits scheme and Seal of Sustainability, designed to incentivise organisations to reduce their plastic footprint and drive positive environmental change. Based in Jaipur, Rajasthan, The Disposal Company will create a new UK headquarters in Birmingham over the coming year.
Coinciding with the Global Growth Programme wins is the news that professional services firm Accenture will establish a new Midlands regional hub, as part of its ambition to create 1,500 new jobs outside London and the South East by 2024. The hub will bring together and expand Accenture’s capabilities to serve clients both locally in the Midlands and across the UK, with a particular focus on driving innovation in the financial services and digital manufacturing sectors.
Also basing their operations in the region is Canadian-headquartered and Techstars-backed FinTech company, Kora, with the West Midlands office representing the company’s first European investment. The pan-African payments infrastructure provider empowers businesses to accept and make payments and convert currency across multiple channels. Kora chose Birmingham as the location for its first UK sales and support office due to its established FinTech and banking ecosystem and tech-oriented talent pool.
Gideon Orovwiroro, Chief Operations Officer at Kora, said: “Marking our first ever European investment, the launch of our new Birmingham office is a major milestone for Kora. The region’s extensive pipeline of tech talent and strong track-record in FinTech and banking will support us in enabling more businesses and individuals to make use of our innovative payments infrastructure.”
The West Midlands Global Growth Programme is being delivered as part of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games Business and Tourism Programme (BATP) - the first economic legacy programme of its kind aligned to the Games, designed to strengthen bilateral ties between the UK and Commonwealth markets.
BATP is sponsored by E.ON, Airbnb, Reckitt, University of Birmingham, Bruntwood and Gowling WLG.
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