University Professor to lead city business group

The University of Wolverhampton’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor is the new chair of the Wolverhampton Business Champions.

Professor Ian Oakes has taken over the role of the group which brings together some of the city’s most prominent employers including the University, Marston’s, UTC Aerospace Systems, JLR, Moog and Wolves FC.

The role of the Business Champions is to work with the city council, local politicians and other key stakeholders to help make Wolverhampton a better place to live, work, invest and visit.

Professor Oakes has been a member of the group for a number of years and takes over the role of chair from Phil Barnett, former divisional director of Marston’s.

Professor Oakes said: “There is a lot of optimism in Wolverhampton at the moment in terms of regeneration and investment.

“The role of the Business Champions is to help businesses in the city to prosper and to work closely with the City Council, the Local Enterprise Partnership and other key organisations including the newly established Combined Authority to do all we can to benefit the local economy and create jobs and investment.

“The outlook for the city is very positive with a number of projects coming to fruition like i10 and the recently completed Science Centre on the University’s Science Park and many more in the pipeline including Westside, Springfield, Canal Side, i9 and the area around the railway station and transport interchange.

“Wolverhampton has a history and reputation of having a strong manufacturing base but this is evolving towards high value manufacturing and making high cost precision components.

“This is especially relevant when you consider recently the UK recorded its highest manufacturing output for 10 years and Wolverhampton has been highlighted as one of hotspots for starting a new business. Working together we must ensure that the city can benefit from projects such as HS2 and the creation of the new West Midlands Combined Authority.

“A record amount of graduates are going into work and further study from the University and we must continue to work with industry to ensure we are bridging the skills gap in key sectors and driving growth.”

Professor Oakes is a former member of the Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership, a current member of the Marches Local Enterprise Partnership and Chief Executive of the University of Wolverhampton Science Park.


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