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Birmingham Knowledge Quarter announced as key site to drive growth in West Midlands, as Investment Zone announced for West Midlands in Autumn Statement

News, Birmingham
Birmingham Knowledge Quarter announced as key site to drive growth in West Midlands, as Investment Zone announced for West Midlands in Autumn Statement

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt today (Wednesday November 22) handed the West Midlands a major economic boost in his Autumn Statement unveiling plans for an Investment Zone with the power to drive up to £5.5bn of growth across the region and 30,000 new jobs.

The zone will benefit from a mix of tax incentives, direct funding and business rate retention. It will focus on driving growth in advanced manufacturing, green industries, health-tech and underlying digital technologies.

The Investment Zone itself will cover the whole West Midlands but will be powered through three specific sites:

* Birmingham Knowledge Quarter – running northeast from Aston University through Duddeston and Nechells to Aston

*Coventry-Warwick Gigapark – anchored by a new battery gigafactory and associated businesses and technologies

* Wolverhampton Green Innovation Corridor – creating new green industries and skills through a partnership between the city council and university.

There was further good news for the region with the Autumn Statement confirming the go ahead for a single pot of funding for the West Midlands, leaving local leaders to decide for themselves on how best to use the money to help level up the region.

The Single Settlement, one of several commitments in the region’s Deeper Devolution Deal agreed in March, will give the West Midlands unparalleled control over spending similar to the Scottish and Welsh Governments.

Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands and Chair of the West Midlands Combined Authority, said: “I welcome the serious and substantial announcements set out by the Chancellor in today’s Autumn Statement. The responsible and forward-thinking decisions he has taken will support households and businesses, boost growth and investment and create job opportunities.

“It’s great news that we now have confirmation that our region will play host to an Investment Zone – incorporating sites from Wolverhampton to Birmingham to Coventry. This will turbo-charge the prospects of some of our key areas of strength including tech, advanced manufacturing, and green industries. Working alongside the outstanding research capabilities of our world-leading universities, this Investment Zone will enhance our ability to attract global companies to our region.

“The Chancellor's decision to empower the West Midlands with a single funding settlement heralds a pivotal moment for our region. It will end the need for competitive bidding into Government to fund our transport, housing, skills, and investment projects and put us on par with Government departments and devolved parts of the UK.

“This greater financial certainty – and the trust shown in us by Government – will enable the WMCA to deliver prosperity for local people in the years ahead. It places decision-making where it belongs: in the hands of those who best understand our region's priorities.”

The West Midlands Investment Zone has the potential to initially attract more than £2bn of new investment into the regional economy and a further £3.5bn over the lifetime of the zone, creating more than 30,000 jobs by 2034.

The Chancellor also announced that the funding package for the zone will be increased from £80m to £160m and can be applied over 10 years rather than five as originally proposed.

Sites within Birmingham Knowledge Quarter and the Coventry-Warwick Gigapark will offer tax breaks for businesses as well as funding for infrastructure such as roads and power. In addition, millions of pounds will be kept in the West Midlands thanks to a 25-year business rates retention scheme within the two sites. The money will be reinvested into the wider region by the WMCA. Investment Zone funding is also expected to support a range of skills and business support programmes across the whole region.

Government will continue to work with the WMCA and other partners to co-develop the plans for the Investment Zone, including priority development sites and specific interventions to drive cluster growth, ahead of the final confirmation of the plans.

The Chancellor’s decision to give the go-ahead for an Investment Zone follows the region’s success in attracting private sector money including from Bruntwood SciTech. The developer is working alongside partners Aston University, Birmingham City University, the University of Birmingham and Birmingham City Council to set up an innovation district within the wider Knowledge Quarter area.

Birmingham Knowledge Quarter investment zone site will transform 60 acres of space between Birmingham city centre and east Birmingham with high quality developments and public spaces built to help attract global firms and enhance connectivity between each area. 

The announcement by Bruntwood SciTech and its partners is part of an overall £800 million development programme for Birmingham Knowledge Quarter which, if successful, could create up to 25,000 jobs, provide extensive supply chain opportunities and attract billions more pounds of investment into the area. Bruntwood SciTech’s Innovation Birmingham campus sits within the heart of the Birmingham Knowledge Quarter, which most recently completed on its expansion to the campus, doubling its size, with Birmingham’s first truly smart building Enterprise Wharf.

Chris Oglesby, executive chair of Bruntwood SciTech, said: “The Birmingham Knowledge Quarter masterplan will create a leading innovation cluster centred on science, technology and enterprise.

“We have committed £1bn to invest in the West Midlands over the next decade, and as part of that Birmingham Knowledge Quarter has the potential to be a world-class hub for R&D – a status that is ever more achievable as a government-recognised Investment Zone, backed by the WMCA‘s Trailblazer single settlement deal.

“We look forward to working in tandem with WMCA and our Knowledge Quarter partners to deliver an innovation ecosystem that will ultimately drive the future prosperity of the regional economy for generations to come.”

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