Exploring the Investment Potential of Midlands Clusters with Midlands Engine

Find out more about The Data City’s partnership with Midlands Engine and the launch of their new report ‘Exploring the Investment Potential of Midlands Clusters’, produced to help support regional partners, businesses and the UK Government to better understand and develop clusters across the Midlands.

The Midlands, known for its industrial heritage and for being the largest regional economy outside London, has always been a powerhouse of innovation. As the region continues its journey of growth and economic development, The Data City is proud to once again collaborate with Midlands Engine Partnership, this time exploring the investment potential of Midlands clusters.

By engaging with the private sector and leveraging our expertise in data analysis, custom classification and mapping, Midlands Engine were able to uncover the emerging clusters with the highest potential for domestic and international investment in the region. These insights, now published in the new report ‘Exploring the Investment Potential of Midlands Clusters’, open the door to new conversations and opportunities for driving economic prosperity in the Midlands.

The report

Launched at the UKREiiF Annual Event in Leeds as part of their Investment Portfolio presentation, the Midlands Engine’s most recent report has been produced in collaboration with a number of partners, including The Data City, to launch a new programme of analysis, engagement and policy development.

Their combined approach was to identify and select a list of clusters from the region, defined using industrial classifications developed by Midlands Engine, which were then analysed across twenty-five metrics to determine their ‘investment potential’. From here a series of roundtable conversations with businesses and partners within seven clusters were undertaken to add perspective and insight, leading to a number of case studies and details of the findings and initial recommendations.

Findings & recommendations

Defining and agreeing on a methodology for clusters is key to any successful research project, however, it is important to note that there is no one single approach to define and identify clusters. Using our data, Midlands Engine were able to seek clusters based on their internally developed definition, agreeing their scale and relevance to ensure the best approach.

The report showcases a number of key findings for clusters in the Midlands and explores the investment potential of four key focus areas, including Health and Life Sciences, Aerospace, Agri-tech and Space Technologies.

Analysis shows that Health and Life Sciences in particular is a growing Super Cluster within the Midlands, with a 93% company count growth (2013-2022), with 240 businesses incorporated since 2017. The Midlands has the highest number of Medical Technologies companies of any region in the UK, contributing £1.6bn into the UK economy annually, housing two of the three largest UK NHS Trusts.

The report also highlights connections to other clusters and UK government invest support initiatives. The Aerospace Established Cluster for example connects with other Super Clusters, such as Energy and Materials and Advanced Manufacturing, with East Midlands Freeport and Space in Leicester and Leicestershire allocated as high potential opportunity areas by the UK Government.

Also included in the report are a series of key recommendations for partners and policymakers, which set out evidence-based recommendations related to the future development of clusters, which include:

  • Funding for local partners to create Cluster Development Companies
  • Improve the quality and accessibility of the evidence-base for clusters in the UK
  • Simplify the inward investment landscape for clusters
  • Working with universities to develop an integrated approach to foreign direct investment into R&D

All these recommendations aim to support cluster development, enhance the understanding of clusters, attract investment and leverage the potential of research and development within the Midlands region.

Visualisation also plays a key part in the report. Helping to articulate clusters and bring the analysis to life, The Data City worked with Midlands Engine to develop a suite of bespoke maps that help visualise key economic activity across the Midlands.

Utlising our classification data, these maps were used throughout the report, focusing on core metrics for clusters including business count, turnover, employee count and innovation in the region.

Read the full report

To get the full picture of the investment potential of midlands clusters and to see how our data and expertise were used, you can download the full report today on the Midlands Engine website.

If you’d like to find out more about our work or want to see our platform in action, then please feel free to get in touch.

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