From 'Workshop of the World’ to future workspaces, GBSLEP unveils new research

From 'Workshop of the World’ to future workspaces, GBSLEP unveils new research

20 Feb 2023

Prioritising funding for new incubators, clean laboratories, and Grade-A office space has the potential to drive high-growth sectors, boost supply chains, and create employment and training opportunities for local people, according to a new report commissioned by Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GBSLEP). 

The ‘GBSLEP Workspace Study’ outlines a series of recommendations for local decision-makers to consider in developing a coordinated, strategic approach to investing in buildings for businesses across the West Midlands. Strong growth is anticipated for the GBSLEP region in the coming years, with Greater Birmingham predicted to remain the main driver of the UK economy outside of London. 

At its core, the report considers how the public and private sectors can create the right types of workspaces in response to the new ways of working post-Covid, and the greater drive by the national Government to ‘level up the regions’. With nearly £150 million of central funding earmarked for local areas across the GBSLEP region, the report’s authors highlight the importance of the public, private, and academic sectors working together to increase the supply of workspaces to drive sustainable and economic growth.  

Anita Bhalla, GBSLEP Chair commented: “Nearly three years on from the start of the pandemic, the generational shift in working patterns and evolving requirements for the workspace have continued to impact how our businesses operate. To capitalise on this and to continue growing our clusters, we wanted to commission this report to help inform our local leaders and decision-makers on the importance of investing in the right type of workspaces in the future.  

“Our region’s industrial heritage is built on being the ‘Workshop of the World’ but to become global leaders in sectors like life sciences and medical technology, we need high-spec workspaces and buildings that will deliver for our people, our places, and our economy. That’s why I am calling on all our partners to consider these recommendations as part of their future masterplanning.” 

Research into GBSLEP’s core high-growth clusters and sectors shows there is substantial scope and opportunity to increase the supply of workspace – either through retrofitting existing office space or providing new hi-spec facilities that can suit the needs of businesses, particularly in the creative, advanced manufacturing and life sciences and medical technology sectors. Small businesses particularly need more incubation space such as Unit 9 at Birmingham Research Park, which is part of University of Birmingham Enterprise, and received funding from GBSLEP and West Midlands Combined Authority. 

Angie Reynolds, Head of Birmingham Research Park, University of Birmingham Enterprise Ltd added: “It is time to rethink the way we support innovation, with bespoke spaces, specifically tailored for the needs of new and potentially high-growth companies.  The West Midlands is emerging as a hub for health innovation and life sciences, and we need to give these young companies supportive, low-cost environments, such as Unit 9, where they can thrive in the early years, and enable the region to benefit from the jobs and training opportunities they provide as they grow.”  

 The report’s exec summary can be downloaded by clicking here   

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