University of Birmingham adds £530m to West Midlands economy

Posted on 24 May 2013 by Tim Brown

The University of Birmingham has been hailed as a crucial player in supporting regional business growth at an evening hosted by business vice-chancellor Professor David Eastwood to honour the success of its business partnerships.

The evening, held at the Professor’s private residence, attracted over 140 senior business executives and entrepreneurial academics.

It provided informal networking opportunities, the chance to build on existing partnerships, and highlight the successes of working together.

The evening was also an opportunity for the university to demonstrate its translational research strengths. Research themes included transport technologies, medicine, sustainable energy and food security.

In his opening address, Professor Eastwood, who is also the university’s principal, highlighted recent successes including the new £60m High Temperature Research Centre, which strengthens its collaboration with Rolls Royce.

In April this year, the University of Birmingham launched a new report, by Oxford Economics, outlining its economic impact on the City of Birmingham and West Midlands region.

The report calculated and explored the major economic impact of the University as an educator, employer, research leader and international gateway. It also demonstrated the University’s pivotal role in leading economic growth, creating sustainable jobs and driving innovation. 

The study shows that the University of Birmingham:

  • generated £1.072 billion of spending in the West Midlands economy in the 2011/12 academic year, a 38% increase since the 2005/06 study
  • made a value-added contribution of £530 million to the region’s economy
  • supports 11,830 jobs in the region, including many highly skilled roles
  • is a net importer of talent to the region
  • acts as an international gateway to the city attracting overseas students
  • attracted £145.5 million research funding in 2011/12 , 87% of the research income received by all Birmingham Higher Education Institutions and 12% of the region’s total R&D spend

Commenting on the importance of collaboration between the University and Industry, Professor Eastwood said the university was “absolutely committed to making [its] research expertise available to benefit business”.

Mike Wright, executive director with JLR, said: “Jaguar Land Rover has enjoyed a very positive and beneficial relationship with the University of Birmingham for more than 20 years.

“Our recent framework agreement for placing research projects with the University demonstrates our future commitment to the University of Birmingham and forms part of Jaguar Land Rover’s initiative to support collaboration with a number of leading universities in the UK and abroad.”

In highlighting the university’s support for SMEs, Greg Hall of Fusion Innovation, said: “The supporting relationship with the University has been and still is an integral and pivotal part in the development of Fusion Innovations both as a company and also the commercial realisation of its step change technological innovations.

“Currently culminating in 3 projects one which is a £1m project of 3 West Midland SME’s and the university into the future low carbon adaptive tyre.”

“Fusion now has offices within the Universities supported Birmingham Research Park’s BizzInn centre,” he added.

Guests also had the opportunity to speak with this year’s winners of its Enterprising Birmingham Innovation Competition, which celebrates the development of academic research expertise into viable business opportunities.

The university also expanded on its role supporting the regional and national economy.

One of the ways it has done this has been by enhancing its reputation as an engaged university internationally, with offices now established in China, Brazil and India.