Businesses across the West Midlands are being given a head-start as the race begins to bid for billions of pounds worth of contracts to build Phase One of HS2.
The region’s three Growth Hubs (Black Country, Coventry & Warwickshire, and Greater Birmingham & Solihull) are launching a programme of support aimed at local businesses in the running to take advantage of thousands of HS2 supply chain opportunities.
The programme will help develop business, engagement, support and funding solutions for business which stand to benefit from both HS2-specific opportunities as well as from the wider expansion and modernisation of the UK’s rail network.
Ian McLaughlan from Greater Birmingham & Solihull Growth Hub said local businesses were perfectly positioned to take advantage of the arrival of HS2:
“There will be thousands of opportunities within the HS2 supply chain across many business sectors, requiring a range of capabilities, suitable for suppliers of all sizes and generated over a number of years.
“Along with colleagues at the Growth Hubs in Coventry & Warwickshire, and the Black Country, we’ve developed a programme of support which will help businesses to understand the procurement process and prepare themselves to be ready for when the opportunities materialise.
“That could range from understanding if their business has the capacity and capability to deliver, or whether they need to have particular accreditations.
“The West Midlands has long been home to some of the UK’s most advanced engineering and manufacturing firms so businesses here really stand benefit most from an infrastructure project on the scale of HS2. Our job is to make sure they’re in the box-seat and that’s what this support is about.”
The programme of support will be launched by the three Growth Hubs at the HS2 Supply Chain Road Show taking place tomorrow (Thursday 7 July) at The Manufacturing Technology Centre in Coventry.
The Coventry road show is one of 11 taking place across the UK, where HS2 Ltd will meet businesses large and small to explain the types of work packages that will be available and advise firms on how they can put themselves in the best position to bid for future contracts.
The Coventry event has seen more than 500 businesses from across the West Midlands registering to attend. It is the first time any of HS2’s regional road shows have been so oversubscribed and has meant that organisers are now running a double session to meet the interest.
Nigel Maris from Assembled Electronic Solutions in Stratford-upon-Avon said: “Our core business of designing circuit boards and control systems has traditionally been in the automotive, aerospace and medical sectors. But our knowledge has the potential to be transferable to the rail sector so HS2 is a huge opportunity for us.
“We’re particularly keen to learn about how SMEs can benefit from this huge infrastructure project and what the main contractors will be doing to work with companies like ours.”
James Carson from Virtus Consult in Birmingham said: “The road show will be an opportunity for us to find out more about the practicalities of bidding for HS2-related work.
“It’ll be a bit of a fact-finding mission to work out what requirements will be expected of a business such as Virtus, and also to see if there are opportunities to collaborate with other local companies to give ourselves the best chance of winning construction, energy and management consultancy work.”
Peter Davies from Brockhouse in West Bromwich said: “HS2 is a game-changer for companies in the Black Country because it will help revitalise our manufacturing industry and give the region a chance to showcase its expertise and skills.
“The road show is important because it will help us understand what will be required from supply chain companies and enable us to be ready to bid for work when the opportunities come along. We’re looking forward to playing our part in a project that will help transform the UK’s infrastructure.”
Beth West, HS2 Ltd Commercial Director, said: “Building HS2 is a massive long-term project and one that offers a huge opportunity for businesses across the West Midlands to bid for billions of pounds worth of contracts, starting with enabling works packages through to supply chain opportunities in engineering and construction.
“To deliver a project of HS2’s size and complexity will require the right companies with the right skills and I hope businesses will take full advantage of our supply chain event in Coventry and get involved with HS2 at an early stage.”