The West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) and Innovate UK have unveiled a new strategic partnership to strengthen innovation in the region.
The West Midlands Local Action Plan sets a framework to more closely align the innovation support Innovate UK and the WMCA provide to the region’s businesses, entrepreneurs, and researchers with the eight primary growth clusters identified in the WMCA’s Plan for Growth.
Indro Mukerjee, CEO Innovate UK, said: “We are launching Innovate UK’s West Midlands Local Action Plan to support the region's economic growth and fuel innovation. I am pleased to be working with Mayor Andy Street and the region’s business and innovation leaders to help deliver growth and productivity.”
Innovate UK is the UK’s national innovation agency that supports and funds businesses, entrepreneurs, and researchers who have creative and cutting-edge ideas to make a positive impact on society and the economy. Innovate UK supports businesses to grow through the development and commercialisation of new products, processes, and services, supported by an innovation ecosystem that is agile and inclusive.
The WMCA’s Plan for Growth is a roadmap launched 12 months ago to drive the post-pandemic economic recovery by creating high-quality, well-paid jobs for local people in key clusters where the region already has a competitive edge.
Launched at an event at Wolverhampton University last week, the West Midlands Local Action Plan aims to harness the innovative and entrepreneurial spirit of the region where James Watt perfected his revolutionary steam engine and where the UK’s first petrol driven car was made.
Andy Street, Mayor of West Midlands and WMCA Chair, said: "Pre pandemic, our region was the fastest growing region outside of London and I’m determined to restore this position. Harnessing the spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship that the West Midlands is renowned for is central to achieving that mission.
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“As we forge an economy fit for the 21st Century, it’s great news that we’ve secured £33 million for our Innovation Accelerator. Combined with the action plan we are launching with Innovate UK, we hope to be able to bring forward further investments soon. That’s why we’re currently working with government to explore the potential to provide tax incentives and wider support to innovative businesses located within defined Investment Zones right across our region.”
The West Midlands Action Plan commits the WMCA and Innovate UK to working together in three core areas:
• Strategic Partnerships with open and transparent discussions, based on mutual trust and co-creating and delivering this plan
• Innovation Support that meets the needs of local businesses and entrepreneurs, is targeted at identified priority clusters, and is informed by the expertise and data shared between the organisations
• Communications and engagement to ensure Innovate UK is reaching, engaging, and inspiring more entrepreneurs and business leaders to innovate
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Mike Wright, chair of WM Innovation Board, said: “This action plan sets out some game-changing priorities that the region and Innovate UK are committed to, driving more activity and investment. It comes at an exciting time for the West Midlands with potential to become more productive by unlocking major opportunities to increase R&D, innovation, and business growth.”