West Midlands emerges as investment magnet

The West Midlands appears to be emerging as a major winner among the UK's regions and devolved nations in the race to attract economic investment.

west midlands
This week's 'Small Business Equity Tracker 2022' from the British Business Bank showed encouraging signs of an 11% increase in equity investment deals last year in English regions and Scotland and Wales, worth £6.2 billion.

Businesses in the West Midlands secured 68 deals worth £338 millions-worth of these investments, slightly down on pandemic-blighted 2020 but 93% higher than in 2019. The technology and IP-based business sector attracted the most funding, securing £244 million.

Dr Sophie Dale-Black, UK network director for the Midlands at the British Business Bank, said: “The West Midlands is home to many innovative businesses that are hungry for growth, shown by a healthy level of investment and deals secured. This is a clear sign of investor confidence in the region’s smaller businesses following the pandemic.“The emergence of tech in the region is welcome and reflects the many initiatives underway locally to support this cluster."

West Midlands attracting strong economic investment

The bank's survey came a few days after Ernst and Young's 'UK Attractiveness Survey' found that the West Midlands was second only behind London for foreign direct investment in financial services last year.

While the capital inevitably remained firmly atop of the table, attracting investment in 39 of the total of 63 new projects, the West Midlands secured six projects and, in the process, replaced Scotland as the second largest recipient in the UK of finance projects.

Anna Anthony, UK financial services managing partner at EY, said: “It is reassuring that at a time when global investment appetite and volumes are being heavily affected by multiple headwinds, and with FDI across Europe falling, the UK continues to see project growth and remains the continent’s most attractive financial services market.

"Six years since the EU Referendum, we can be confident that Brexit has not damaged the UK’s fundamental appeal, with its deep history in financial services and access to top talent. Investors clearly recognise that the UK continues to offer a unique environment for growth, innovation and progress."

Local company named winner and will recieve fully funded consultancy

This week also saw the first businesses from the West Midlands named as winners in the Global Growth Programme - a new, government-backed support programme designed to help businesses from the region get export-ready.

Led by the West Midlands Growth Company in partnership with the Department for International Trade, winners will receive fully funded, export-focused consultancy and delivery, facilitated by trade and investment experts, OCO Global.

The winning businesses - identified for their key export readiness, market receptibility and innovation - were biomedical innovation company Adapttech; low carbon, tech-led fitness firm Energym; data-led employee wellness company Lumien, which is looking to reach US and Canadian markets, ahead of further expansion into the Far East; AI-led candidate screening business Complygate; and cyber security cloud platform company Metcloud.

Neil Rami, chief executive of the West Midlands Growth Company, said: "Chosen for their innovation and preparedness to begin exporting, these five winners have been able to capitalise on the region’s hotbed of young talent, wealth of resources and extensive support available for start-ups.

"The Global Growth Programme – one of the services we’re offering through the Business and Tourism Programme - will now provide these enterprises with the expert consultancy required to develop a successful export strategy, as they embark on the next phase of their growth chapter.”

The promotion of the West Midlands as a place for international investment aims to capitalise on the Common Games being staged in Birmingham from July 29. Commonwealth Games Minister Nigel Huddleston said he hoped the games provided the region with a lasting legacy by showing the world what a "fantastic place" the region was to live, visit and do business.

Read more news and views from David Sapsted, June articles.

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