I joined City REDI / WM REDI in early February 2021 during the COVID-19 pandemic that is gripping the nation and much of the world. Certainly not in my lifetime has there been disruption on the scale seen over the past year. As I write this from my makeshift office at home, I wonder when I might get to meet my new colleagues face to face for the first time, or see the campus where we are based.
However, issues of a much greater magnitude are facing our society, not least the economic and social fallout brought on by the pandemic and related restrictions on activity but also longstanding issues of inequality between, and within, the regions of the UK. This is compounded by the impact of the UK leaving the European Union which does not affect regions equally.
It seems there could not be a more appropriate time for me to join the Institutes and contribute to the ongoing effort to strengthen the UK’s regional economies. Building strong, sustainable and inclusive regional economies are key to providing more opportunities for more people in more places and over the longer term. Innovation has a significant role to play, not only in building wealth but also in helping to solve some of the most pressing issues of our time on climate change, health, housing, transport, etc.
My research interests have been formed by my career background and include, strategic planning and development, the regional economy, place-based innovation and housing. After studying economics, accounting and finance as an undergraduate at the University of Manchester I spent the first decade of my career as a chartered management accountant in the manufacturing sector, both in UK and USA. A growing interest in urban planning and economic development led me to complete a Masters in Spatial Planning at University College London in 2019 before joining the planning team of a leading real estate consultancy in the West Midlands.
Now that I have joined City REDI / WM REDI, I aim to draw on my experience in industry, my analytical data-driven approach and my appreciation of spatial issues to support the research team. I am also looking forward to working closely with others across the West Midlands region that are involved in economic development, especially on the preparation of business case proposals for investment.
With the right mix of policies and investment the West Midlands and other regions can recover from the pandemic and look ahead to a brighter future.
This blog was written by Kelvin Humphreys, Policy and Data Analyst, City-REDI / WM REDI, University of Birmingham.
The views expressed in this analysis post are those of the authors and not necessarily those of City-REDI / WM REDI or the University of Birmingham.