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Launch of the Midlands Engine Economic Observatory

Published: Thursday 11 November 2018

A powerful new economic observatory that will provide valuable data and insight has been launched, with a pledge to assess the potential impact of Brexit on Midlands business sectors.

Launch of the Midlands Engine Economic Observatory

A powerful new economic observatory that will provide valuable data and insight has been launched.

Up-to-date analysis will allow the Midlands Engine Partnership to target resource in the most effective ways to present the evidence to Government on the best ways to accelerate growth in the £207bn economy.

The Midlands Engine, a partnership of local and combined authorities, local enterprise partnerships, universities and businesses, has tasked the Observatory to initially deliver two flagship pieces of analysis:

  • An Independent Economic Review of the Midlands
  • An assessment of the potential impact of Brexit on the different sectors across the region

The Observatory will also help the delivery of the strategic programmes within the Midlands Engine, including the transport arm Midlands Connect, trade and investment, skills, innovation and enterprise, and shaping places.

Another task of the observatory will be to provide a greater visibility of what is happening in the future for the Midlands, which is home to more than 10 million people and 800,000 businesses. This will allow businesses to be more ready to react in an agile way to environmental and technology changes.

Communities Secretary Rt Hon James Brokenshire MP, who is also the Government’s Midlands Engine Champion, said: “Collaboration is at the heart of delivering our modern Industrial Strategy and an economy which works for everyone, so I’m proud to see two of the region’s great universities come together with the Midlands Engine Partnership and other local experts to develop a rich picture of the Midlands economy.

“I look forward to seeing the analysis produced by the Observatory and continuing to work with our partners across the region to deliver our vision for a strong and prosperous Midlands Engine as we leave the European Union.”

Sir John Peace, Chairman of the Midlands Engine, added: “The Observatory will help us develop a crucial piece of the evidence base when we make decisions or present our case to Government.

“We need to develop a greater granular knowledge of our economy if we are to exploit our strengths in the Midlands and increase our productivity. Also it is important that we are ready for what lies ahead – the Observatory will provide us with this vital information at a sub-regional level.”

The Government published its Midlands Engine Strategy in March 2017. This was followed later in the year by the Partnership’s response – the Midlands Engine Vision for Growth.

In the Vision for Growth, the partnership committed to creating a Midlands Economic Observatory. The analysis will be designed to complement and add to the existing research that is being done.

Professor Edward Peck, Vice-Chancellor of Nottingham Trent University, said: “We are pleased to be coming together with the University of Birmingham to work as part of an important alliance to support the region. This university-led partnership offers a breadth of expertise to the Midlands Engine which will influence and support strategic decision-making within the Midlands.”

Professor Sir David Eastwood, Vice-Chancellor at the University of Birmingham said: “The launch of this new Midland Engine Economic Observatory will provide a robust evidence base and develop granular knowledge of the Midlands economy to better understand the region’s economic strengths and inform policy choices.

“Our civic mission is a defining characteristic of the University of Birmingham, and it is at the very heart of how we work with and contribute to our city and region – through our research, through our teaching and through our interactions as an influential economic and social actor. I am therefore delighted that we are able to contribute our academic expertise and thought leadership to shape the future strategy for the Midlands Engine.”

The Midlands Economic Observatory is a partnership led by City-REDI at the University of Birmingham and includes Nottingham Trent University, Black Country Consortium, SQW, Cambridge Econometrics.