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New action plan to boost innovation in West Midlands launched at Springfield Campus

A group of attendees at the Innovate UK launch of action plan

The West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) and Innovate UK announced a new strategic partnership to strengthen innovation in the region at the University of Wolverhampton's £120M Springfield Campus.

The West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) and Innovate UK have announced a new strategic partnership to strengthen innovation in the region.

The West Midlands Local Action Plan sets a framework to more closely align the innovation support Innovate UK and the WMCA provide to the region’s businesses, entrepreneurs, and researchers with the eight primary growth clusters identified in the WMCA’s Plan for Growth.

Innovate UK is the UK’s national innovation agency that supports and funds businesses, entrepreneurs, and researchers who have creative and cutting-edge ideas to make a positive impact on society and the economy. Innovate UK supports businesses to grow through the development and commercialisation of new products, processes, and services, supported by an innovation ecosystem that is agile and inclusive.

The WMCA’s Plan for Growth is a roadmap launched 12 months ago to drive the post-pandemic economic recovery by creating high-quality, well-paid jobs for local people in key clusters where the region already has a competitive edge.

Launched at an event at the University, the West Midlands Local Action Plan aims to harness the innovative and entrepreneurial spirit of the region where James Watt perfected his revolutionary steam engine and where the UK’s first petrol driven car was made.

Andy Street, Mayor of West Midlands and WMCA Chair, said: "Pre pandemic, our region was the fastest growing region outside of London and I’m determined to restore this position. Harnessing the spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship that the West Midlands is renowned for is central to achieving that mission.

“As we forge an economy fit for the 21st Century, it’s great news that we’ve secured £33m for our Innovation Accelerator. Combined with the action plan we are launching with Innovate UK, we hope to be able to bring forward further investments soon. That’s why we’re currently working with Government to explore the potential to provide tax incentives and wider support to innovative businesses located within defined Investment Zones right across our region.”

Indro Mukerjee, CEO Innovate UK, said: “We are launching Innovate UK’s West Midlands Local Action Plan to support the region's economic growth and fuel innovation. I am pleased to be working with Mayor Andy Street and the region’s business and innovation leaders to help deliver growth and productivity.”

The West Midlands Action Plan commits the WMCA and Innovate UK to working together in three core areas:

•           Strategic Partnerships with open and transparent discussions, based on mutual trust and co-creating and delivering this plan

•           Innovation Support that meets the needs of local businesses and entrepreneurs, is targeted at identified priority clusters, and is informed by the expertise and data shared between the organisations

•           Communications and engagement to ensure Innovate UK is reaching, engaging, and inspiring more entrepreneurs and business leaders to innovate

Mike Wright, chair of WM Innovation Board, said: “This action plan sets out some game-changing priorities that the region and Innovate UK are committed to, driving more activity and investment. It comes at an exciting time for the West Midlands with potential to become more productive by unlocking major opportunities to increase R&D, innovation, and business growth.”

The launch of the Local Action Plan comes as the five projects in the West Midlands Innovation Accelerator announced in the Spring 2023 budget, launched their engagement with the local business community last week.

Funding worth £33m has been invested in innovation, designed to bolster the region’s research and development capability, with a particular focus on health and medical technologies, clean technologies, and cross-sector R&D. The Innovation Accelerator is a locally driven programme, developed in collaboration with government and led by Innovate UK.

Click here to download the Local Action Plan.

The new School of Architecture and Built Environment at Springfield Campus offers specialist teaching and social learning spaces, design studios, specialist labs, multi-disciplinary workshops, a lecture theatre, cafe, offices, meeting rooms, and advanced VR facilities in the construction holodeck with the top floor dedicated to architectural courses.  

The Architectural Studios are equipped with high-end workstations that allow for all students to be located together allowing for peer-to-peer learning and naturally occurring vertical learning, which is important to prepare for practice. The proximity of the ADT studios is especially important as it also allows for the natural cross-over of teaching and learning between these closely aligned courses. 

Each student has a dedicated individual workspace where they can hone their critical thinking skills both as individuals and as a larger community, providing a solid foundation in the creative process. The dedicated architecture studios are supplemented by a material workshop, smart modelling and assembly workshop for physical model making and the Construction Holodeck to support state of the art digital workflows. 

The School offers a variety of courses that support skills in architecture, construction, civil engineering, building control, building services, facilities management, quantity surveying, planning, construction management, housing and commercial.    

Home to the Thomas Telford University Technical College (UTC), the University’s School of Architecture and Built Environment, and the Elite Centre for Manufacturing Skills, the regeneration of the former Springfield Brewery is central to the University’s vision of enhancing the student experience and supporting business growth. It is also home to the University’s new National Brownfield Research Institute for which the University recently secured £14.9 million funding from the BCLEP through the government’s Get Building Fund.   

Anyone interested in courses being offered at Springfield Campus should check out the website or register for one of our forthcoming Open Days.     

Picture caption from left to right: Professor Prashant Pillai, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research and Knowledge Exchange at the University, Indro Mukerjee, CEO Innovate UK and Professor John Raftery, Vice-Chancellor at the University.


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