Creative Commons Licence
Although The Guardian facetiously described the "Midlands engine" as appearing to be "a leaflet and some money" in "Can the measly Midlands Engine turn the region into a powerhouse?" 4 Dec 2015 it offers serious opportunities for creative and innovative businesses in the region. Having made a devolution deal with the West Midlands local authorities on 17 Nov 2015 (see Elected mayor deal for West Midlands Combined Authority agreed BBC website) the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced substantial investment in transport and the arts in his autumn statement (see Spending review and autumn statement 2015 27 Nov 2015 and the Business Secretary and the 11 Midlands local enterprise partnerships published the The Midlands Engine for Growth Prospectus on 4 Dec 2015.
The Prospectus indicated 5 priorities:
- Trade and investment
- Research and innovation
- Business support, and
- Skills development.
On research and innovation the Prospectus promises:
"The Midlands Engine will drive up business innovation, improving business productivity and competitiveness. Our universities and business will work together pan-regionally to bring forward innovations that support our key sectors and drive this through the supply chain. We will work with Government to identify where opportunities exist to further our innovation activity across the Midlands Engine."The opportunities mentioned in the Prospectus include
- Manufacturing, Engineering and Transport Technologies
- Agri-food and drink manufacturing and production
- Energy and low carbon technologies, and
- Creative, Digital and Design industries.
To help finance such research and innovation, the Prospectus proposes "a comprehensive fund-of-funds:"
"To support business growth and survival, Midlands Engine partners will develop a £180 million region-wide fund-offunds utilising the EU Joint European Resource for Micro to Medium Enterprises (JEREMIE) programme. This fund will combine ERDF funding with matched lending from the European Investment Bank (EIB) and legacy returns from previous programmes. This will establish a comprehensive range of sub-funds designed to support the SME growth ambitions of the region. The funds will deliver access to finance solutions on a scale and ambition that has until now been unknown in the Midlands Engine region."I shall support those initiatives by providing advice on intellectual property, joint ventures, licensing and technology law through clinics. workshops and one to one consultations and representation in negotiations, mediation, the courts and Intellectual Property Office. Anyone who wishes to discuss this article or the Midlands Engine generally should call me on 020 7404 5252 during office hours or contact me through this form.