West Midlands Innovation Accelerator to spark growth and innovation
The West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) prepares to launch the West Midlands Innovation Accelerator to bolster the region’s innovation and R&D capability and capacity to spark commercial growth and investment.
First announced in the government’s 2022 Levelling up White Paper, the West Midlands Innovation Accelerator will commence in May 2023, funded through a share of a £100m fund from Innovate UK, to be divided by three regional Innovation Accelerators over the next two years.
Aims of the Innovation Accelerator include accelerating the region’s engineering research & development, boosting inward investment, and reinforcing the West Midlands’ position at the frontier of the UK innovation revolution by enabling businesses to develop new products, processes and services.
The West Midlands Innovation Board has targeted investment on projects enabling new solutions around Medical and Clean Technologies, following initial expressions of interest in June 2022.
Andy Street, mayor of the West Midlands, and chair of the WMCA, said: “I’m delighted to see the Innovation Accelerator fund finally land in our region which will unlock a further £150m of private sector co-investment. The funding will inject momentum into the delivery of the West Midlands Plan for Growth which sets out how we will unlock hundreds of thousands of new jobs and be home to major global companies in this decade.
“One of my key mayoral missions is to restore our status as the fastest growing region outside of London – just as we were pre-pandemic. Innovation is central to achieving that mission.
“We’re already a leading region for UK innovation when it comes to automotive and aerospace – with every £1 of government spending for Research & Development translating in to £4 of business investment. This latest news will help us to build on our progress to date – with government’s forthcoming Trailblazer Devolution Deal and proposed programme of Investment Zones set to usher in exciting times ahead.”
Mike Wright, chair of the West Midlands Innovation Board said: “The Innovation Accelerator is set to turbo-growth of our regional economy, including practical support to innovative clean-tech and med-tech firms, as well as driving cross-sector innovation.
“The close working with Innovate UK and the West Midlands Innovation Board on this is a great example of partnership work benefiting the region, based on input last summer from over 200 innovation leaders from business, academia, and government.
“The Innovation Board now has a significant challenge, following the submission of a number of high-quality projects right across the region, to both back the five projects, and seek investment for further projects in the pipeline.”
Cllr Ian Brookfield, leader of Wolverhampton Council and WMCA Lead for Economy & Innovation said: “This investment injects momentum into the delivery of the West Midlands Plan for Growth which sets out how we will nurture growth in future industries right across the region, creating over 40,000 jobs by 2030.
“government identified the West Midlands as a pilot because of our innovation leadership and plans. The Innovation Accelerator is a tangible example to the world of how we support our businesses to translate knowledge into commercial success and good quality jobs, and we will put that message at the heart of our efforts to attract inward investment in local economies across the West Midlands.”
Indro Mukerjee, chief executive at Innovate UK said: “As the UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK is dedicated to building strong regional partnerships to boost local innovation and commercialisation. Our Innovation Accelerators will attract further private sector investment in city regions, driving economic and societal growth and benefiting local communities. Together, we can unleash the full innovation potential of every community in the UK.
George Freeman, minister of state for Science Research & Innovation at DSIT said: “Through Record investment in our UK science, technology & innovation sectors, the Innovation Economy is creating new career opportunities in the campuses, clusters & companies of tomorrow.
“That’s why UKRI is putting clusters at the heart of its of its £25bn budget up to 2025, and why our £100m Innovation Accelerator Program provides £33m each to 3 emerging clusters to attract industrial co-investment and become major, globally competitive centres for research and innovation.
“The W Midlands Cluster is becoming a world class hub of R+D in med tech and clean tech. I’m delighted that local leaders have come together to use our £33m to launch such exciting programs with industry and Universities in this exciting area.”