Westminster Business Forum

Next steps for the West Midlands Local Industrial Strategy - innovation, infrastructure and skills

Morning, Thursday, 27th June 2019

Central Birmingham


This conference will be an early opportunity to discuss the West Midlands Local Industrial Strategy following its recent publication. It is bringing together stakeholders with policymakers to discuss the implementation of the strategy and what needs to be done to bring economic growth to the region through better transport to widen labour markets and provide people with better access to skills, education and training as well as unlocking sites for development making the West Midlands a place where people want to live and work.

Given the regions big manufacturing presence, delegates will discuss how government, industry and education providers need to collaborate to support innovation and key clusters of industry, garnering inward investment, developing workforce skills and delivering the infrastructure that businesses and communities need.

Sessions will look at how the Strategy can build on the West Midlands Skills Agreement and boost digital and technical skills, job opportunities and productivity across the region, through policies such as the WMCA Regional Skills Plan. There will be discussion on the work of the West Midlands Mental Health Commission who are seeking ways to reduce incidences of mental health, improve services and increase the number of people able to work.

Delegates will discuss the provisions by the strategy to improve innovation in transport, business and infrastructure. There will be discussion on how policies such as the West Midlands Innovation Framework can best stimulate new research, and how stakeholders can develop greater collaborations with Universities, Catapults and technology networks.

As the West Midlands is becoming a globally renowned advanced manufacturing and engineering centre, sessions will look at opportunities for further international investment, and how the Strategy can continue to develop sectors such as Aerospace and Construction.

There will also be discussion on electric and autonomous vehicles as the Secretary of State announces £28m for the creation of a battery technology factory for electric vehicles, and what needs to be done to build on this and ensure sustainable energy and clean growth in the region.

With the Transforming Cities Fund already committing £250m for local transport improvements in the West Midlands and the development of HS2, delegates will discuss how these existing plans are aligned with local housing needs and those of local business and what further plans are needed to develop an integrated transport system, including reducing congestion and improving the tram network.

As the 2022 Commonwealth Games is expected to boost the economy in the West Midlands by around £1.5bn, the seminar will discuss what transport, housing and infrastructure needs to be in place and how this will be delivered on time for the Games and provide the region with a lasting legacy.

Keynote Speaker

Councillor Ian Ward

Leader, Birmingham City Council and Portfolio Lead, Growth, WMCA

Keynote Speaker

Councillor Ian Ward

Leader, Birmingham City Council and Portfolio Lead, Growth, WMCA


Rt Hon Dame Caroline Spelman MP

Member of Parliament for Meriden


Penny Riddle

Director of Apprenticeships, Halesowen College

Tim Pile

Chair, Greater Birmingham & Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership

Councillor Celia Hibbert

Penn Ward, City of Wolverhampton Council

Professor Anne Green

Professor of Regional Economic Development, City-REDI, Birmingham Business School, University of Birmingham

Rajdeep Kandola

Senior Policy & Patron Advisor, Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce

Zach Wilcox

Senior Consultant, City Economics, Arup

Professor John Bryson

Professor, Enterprise and Economic Geography, University of Birmingham

Senior speaker confirmed from the Cities and Local Growth Unit

Colin Leighfield

Director, B.E. Wedge Holdings and Member, UK Metals Council

Laura Shoaf

Managing Director, Transport for West Midlands