This conference will be an early opportunity to discuss the West Midlands Local Industrial Strategy following its recent publication.
Delegates will discuss key priorities for implementation, focusing on the Strategy’s measures for delivering inclusive economic growth in the region, including:
- targeted action on workforce skills, housing and transport;
- support for innovation and key industry clusters; and
- attracting greater inward investment.
Support for innovation and strengthening collaboration
With the Strategy aiming to capitalise on the Region’s existing sectoral strengths and position it as a leader in fields of emerging technologies such as driverless vehicles, energy management, 5G and AI, sessions will examine practical next steps for building the global position of the West Midlands as an advanced manufacturing and engineering centre. It follows the Government’s announcement of £28m for the creation of a battery technology factory for electric vehicles, and we expect discussion on where else investment can be targeted to support growth and the other aims of the Strategy.
With digital technology a theme throughout the Strategy, sessions discuss how businesses could be helped to keep up with developments, and what more can be done to support innovation start-ups with a digital focus and more widely.
In considering how policy can best stimulate new research, we expect discussion on how stakeholders can develop collaboration between universities, Catapults and technology networks to continue the work of the locally-led West Midlands Innovation Framework.
Delegates will consider what needs to be done to achieve the aims set out in the Strategy of ensuring availability of both space and finance for innovation, encourage cross-sectoral innovation and deepen the business-led and peer-to-peer networks.
Developing skills and promoting wellbeing
The agenda looks at how the Strategy can build on the West Midlands Skills Agreement, which sets out how the Government will work with the WMCA to tackle the skills challenge in the region.
With the West Midlands facing challenges such as needing higher employment, more people to be better qualified and new businesses to be nurtured, the seminar will be an opportunity to discuss how to meet the Strategy’s aim for a multi-agency approach to retraining existing workforces, retaining graduates and inspiring the next generation to ensure modern manufacturing skills meet market demands.
We expect 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.
Infrastructure, regeneration and capturing benefits from the Commonwealth Games
Delegates will discuss the provisions in the Strategy to improve innovation and its commercialisation in areas such as transport, business and infrastructure, including collaboration on energy to bring together the right stakeholders to manage energy investment efficiently.
With the Transforming Cities Fund already committing £250m for local transport improvements in the West Midlands and the development of HS2, delegates will assess the alignment of existing plans 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. There will also be a keynote speech from David Grevemberg, Chief Executive Officer, Commonwealth Games Federation.