An exciting new University of Birmingham research institute, the West Midlands Regional Economic Development Institute (WM REDI) was launched on Monday 3rd February. It is an unprecedented partnership between key regional organisations and stakeholders, who have come together to find ways to deliver an effective inclusive growth vision and meet the economic challenges and opportunities of the future.
WM REDI was launched at the Library of Birmingham with speeches by Professor Sir David Eastwood, Vice-Chancellor and Principal at the University of Birmingham, Professor Simon Collinson, Deputy Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Regional Economic Engagement and Director of WM REDI, Alice Frost, Director of Knowledge Exchange from Research England, UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and Julia Goldsworthy, Director of Strategy, WMCA.
WM REDI is a collaboration with various local and regional stakeholders with a major award from the Research England Development (RED) Fund, together with matched funding from the University of Birmingham and regional stakeholders which amounts to over £11.5 million.
WM REDI will begin its work immediately on the University of Birmingham Edgbaston campus and will move into The Exchange at the beginning of 2021. The Exchange is a Grade II listed Old Municipal Bank, founded by Neville Chamberlain in Centenary Square next to HSBC’s UK headquarters. The Exchange will breathe new life into the space and create a city centre hub for public access to the University’s research expertise, education and cultural collections.
Professor Simon Collison said at the launch:
“WM REDI builds on the success of City-REDI (City Region Economic and Development Institute), with a central mission to support inclusive and sustainable economic growth in the West Midlands and across the UK. Our new institute will be housed in the University of Birmingham’s new and iconic city-centre building, The Exchange, providing a stronger connection with our stakeholders and local communities as part of our civic engagement strategy. WM REDI represents an unprecedented regional collaboration, co-funded by our local partners including the West Midlands Combined Authority, Local Enterprise Partnerships, the Growth Company and the Chamber of Commerce, alongside Aston and Birmingham City Universities. At the national level UKRI’s Research England has provided core funding to build a world-class research institute anchored in our great city-region but with the ambition to promote balanced growth across all UK regions.”
Vice-Chancellor and Principal at the University of Birmingham informed attendees of the vision of WM REDI:
“Our vision is to establish a world-leading research institute, focusing on city-regions to better understand and influence regional and national economic growth policies.”
He commented that WM REDI is,
“a collaboration to make a difference and help drive inclusive economic growth across our region.”
The partnership includes:
- The West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA)
- Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GBS LEP)
- The GBS Chambers of Commerce
- Business Professional Services consortium (BPS)
- West Midlands Growth Company (WMGC)
- The Black Country Consortium Ltd
- Aston University
- Birmingham City University (BCU)
These key partners, who are involved in planning and delivering growth policies for the region, also provided match funding. Other partners also include Birmingham City Council and the seven metropolitan Local Authorities in the West Midlands, the Midlands Engine and the University of Warwick. These partnerships will provide a new collaborative space to co-locate secondments from these stakeholders, provide policy workshops and training programmes and engage national partners.
Attendees also heard from Julia Goldsworthy, who said:
“WM REDI will add to the capacity of the West Midlands region and its ability to articulate the economic impact of the regional economy, with the expertise, knowledge and data to mature the shared truth of our economic model.”
This partnership will enable better policy insights through collaborative research and new channels for knowledge exchange to help to rebalance the UK economy and create inclusive local economies.
Tim Pile, Chair of the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership, commented that:
“sustainable innovation is the key to sustaining the renaissance of the West Midlands.”
He also said WM REDI is,
“a coalition of the willing, bringing together partner’s right across the region to create a centre of knowledge and data to better inform the decision making of partners.”
Alice Frost, from Research England which provided £4,913,977 from Research England’s Development (RED) Fund, and who spoke at the launch said:
“WM REDI is a potentially vital development – and so timely. It should provide evidence and partnerships to help deliver the government’s 2.4% target, and specifically to contribute insights on place research and development strategy. Research England is pleased to invest in the institute and we are looking forward to learning from it.”
Below is a selection of photos from the launch:
This blog was written by Ben Brittain, Data and Policy Analyst, City-REDI.
The opinions presented here belong to the author rather than the University of Birmingham.
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