Holt Commercial Director, David Allen, has contributed, once again, to the Cambridge University Land Society’s annual magazine – this year focussing on some of the events and sectors that are making the West Midlands a great place to invest.
The article can be read in full below.
The West Midlands has generally been perceived as an area of automotive assembly and manufacturing, and, while it remains important and alive and kicking, both, in the assembly sector with investment by JLR and the supply chain, the rationalisation of that industry has left gaps. The Local Authorities and Development Agencies, and now the LEPs have all encouraged growth in the information and knowledge industries and specifically, in life sciences.
Rather than a complete overview, I have decided to concentrate on two specific areas, being, the growth of the medical and life sciences clusters within Birmingham and equally the digital creative sector in Warwickshire. This will obviously exclude mentions of medical and life sciences in Warwickshire and indeed the creative and technical businesses in the Digbeth Quarter of Birmingham.
The medical cluster in Birmingham is probably most easily identified as being the Edgbaston Medical Quarter, which is a strong cluster of excellence and is home to approximately three quarters of the city’s health care economy and comprises more than 180 medical organisations, 80 hospitals and specialist care centres and 23 training facilities.
Well known establishments such as the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham, the Centre for Rare Diseases and Personalised Medicines, the Institute of Translational Medicine, the Royal Centre for Defence Medicine, the NIHR Centre for Surgical Reconstruction and Microbiology and many more are centred within the EMQ.
This has provided the impetus for a significant number of providers of other medical facilities within the specialist areas, such as oncology orthopaedics, fertility, mental health and other specialisms. The traditional landowner Calthorpe Estate have developed the Edgbaston Medical Quarter and have been successful in the redevelopment of Pebble Mill, with a new private hospital, the relocated Dental Hospital and other facilities. In addition, a significant number of the medical facilities referred to above are now located there.
Very recently Binding Site expanded their presence from their existing facility on Calthorpe Road having been heavily involved in developing Covid-19 testing.
The latest facility to be developed close to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and Birmingham University, is the Birmingham Health Innovation Campus. This is a 10-year master plan with over 650,000 sq ft of campus to be developed by Bruntwood SciTech in partnership with the University of Birmingham. The proposed number of new jobs is over 10,000, with an aim of £400 million of Gross Value Added to the regional economy by 2031.
The first phase of this is a 65,000 sq ft Precision Health Technologies Accelerator and Birmingham Precision Medical Centre with the Health Technologies Innovation Hub which will, in layman’s terms, develop new medicines through cutting-edge molecular pathology and seek to bring these to market quickly and cost effectively.
So why does Birmingham continue to attract such development? Possibly because of the existing 17,300 people already employed in life sciences and its 15,000 life sciences graduates, as well as 550 companies already involved in the life science sector. Indeed, it is estimated that of the £94 billion regional economy, the life science industry has a regional turnover of £6.5 billion and has grown 40% since 2005. The latest arrival being Eurofins with a digital testing centre.
I realise that whilst concentrating on life sciences, I have ignored other technical clusters, of which, Enterprise Wharf close to Aston University have over 150 technical companies in a campus and cluster facility.
Moving across to Coventry and Warwickshire, the “Silicon Spa” is the largest games development cluster outside of greater London. It employs over 15% of the entire UK workforce in games development and 80 of the 130 games studios in the West Midlands are within this area. Since January 2021, there have been four acquisitions of studios which are located in and around Leamington, which has resulted in over £2 billion of foreign investment into the UK. This Coventry and Warwickshire creative industries element contributed over £1 billion in GVA.
In addition, the UK Battery Industrialisation Centre has been developed since 2017 and is now a 200,000 sq ft commissioned facility, a “learning factory” for automotive batteries. This will assist the development of the Giga Factory, proposed for a site on Coventry Airport, about which there have been many headlines. The project is truly massive and will be a major component of the electrification of the UK automotive market.
So, with HS2 arriving, the Commonwealth Games 2022 in Birmingham and the Coventry City of Culture, all looks good for the West Midlands over the next two to three years.