The New Local Enterprise Partnerships: An Initial Assessment - Business, Innovation and Skills Committee Contents

Written evidence from Birmingham City University


  The 29 June, 2010 letter from BIS signed by Vince Cable and Eric Pickles invites local authority leaders and business leaders to work with Government to help strengthen local economies. This letter sets out Birmingham City University's views on the challenges for a local economic partnership (LEP) encompassing Birmingham:

    1. Geography. It is our firm belief that Birmingham should be in a LEP defined in terms of the functional economic geography of greater Birmingham and not existing local government or ad hoc regional area boundaries (eg west midlands) which are a legacy in terms of economic performance. This will ensure that economic issues can be addressed in a clear and coherent way to the good of local businesses and citizens.

    2. Economy. A greater Birmingham LEP should concentrate primarily on matters of economic importance to the region, including jobs, skills, inward investment, business start-ups and transport. We also favour investment in the advanced manufacturing, creative and cultural industries, digital, design, and low carbon sectors. Without this focus it will be difficult to attract the interest of business leaders and to lead the region out of recession.

    3. Transition from AWM. Much of the work of AWM provided great value to the region and it is important that there is a lasting legacy from the investment. A Birmingham LEP must provide a smooth transition for the economic elements and assets of AWM. In particular, it is important that there is a clear plan for how to handle access to European investment opportunities.

    4. Central role for universities. Universities are major economic engines for Birmingham. Birmingham City together with Birmingham and Aston universities employ around 10,000 staff, bring around 70,000 students annually into Birmingham (around 10,000 of which are from overseas) and have a joint turnover of around £700 million. The total economic footprint of the Birmingham universities probably exceeds £1 billion. A key goal for the LEP should be to position Birmingham as a university city and to enjoy the direct and indirect economic (and other) benefits that such a focus will bring.

    5. Partnership. One of the long term issues that has held Birmingham back is the lack of alignment of key stakeholder groups. It is time for fresh thinking and a new approach; everyone needs to work together towards a common goal of making Birmingham the most successful LEP in the country. Universities can also play an important independent, honest broker role here and can act as a counterweight to public and private interests.

  We are personally committed to trying to make a Birmingham LEP a success and stand ready to work with others to develop both a successful proposal and an outstanding partnership for the good of the city-region.

2 September 2010

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