The University of Birmingham has launched a new research institute - West Midlands Regional Economic Development Institute (WM REDI), which will be established in the University of Birmingham’s Exchange building to support inclusive economic growth in our city-region and regions across the UK.
WM REDI was launched at the Library of Birmingham on Monday 3rd February 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 and Alice Frost, Director of Knowledge Exchange from Research England, UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).
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.
The role of WM REDI will be to develop an integrated, regional data hub and tools for analysis and monitoring, to improve how particular economic investments and social innovations in the region will be selected, shaped and promoted. WM REDI will also conduct comparative benchmarking to assess the relative strengths and weaknesses of the UK regions focusing explicitly on regional systems of innovation and the relative alignment of university Research & Development (R&D) with user-needs at the local and national levels. Over time WM REDI will provide policy support to help shape and implement Local Industrial Strategies (LIS). Also WM REDI will be delivering workshops and training programmes to accelerate three types of economic and social impact: technology commercialisation, innovation in services firms, non-commercial innovation to support improvements in local public services, health and welfare.
WM REDI will be providing analytical tools to regional policymakers who are responsible for local industrial strategies who will select priority investments and allocate scarce resources to improve productivity, help increase higher-skilled, higher-income employment, attract inward investment and improve public services.
Professor Simon Collinson, Director of WM REDI 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."
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 and Birmingham City University (BCU) also attended the launch. These key partners, who are involved in planning and delivering growth policies for the region, also provided match funding. Other partners 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.
This 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.
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.”