Digital tech industries to add £2 billion to region’s economy and create 14,000 jobs

A new report revealing that tech and digital industries could add more than £2 billion to the West Midlands economy and create thousands of new jobs, has been unveiled at a special Birmingham event showcasing new inventions and technological creations.

The Tech and Digital: Deep Dive Report, drawn up by Birmingham City University and the Regional Observatory to demonstrate how vital the tech industry will be to the region in driving growth and reducing unemployment.

The report was formally launched during this year’s Innovation Fest (Friday May 26), a day-long competition which allows creative students to showcase their technological creations in front of expert judges and industry leaders.

Speakers at the event, held in the atrium at Millennium Point in Birmingham’s Eastside, outlined the importance of the innovation on show through the students’ final-year projects, as well as showcasing elements of the report.

Among the key findings, the report highlighted that the tech and digital sector in the West Midlands:

  • Is expected to add £2.2 billion GVA to the West Midlands economy by 2025
  • Will create 14,000 jobs by 2025 – an increase of 20 per cent, to 84,000
  • 91 per cent of the new jobs will be in highly skilled professional and technical roles – this is currently 55 per cent
  • The local talent pool is a rich source of employment for tech and digital firms in the West Midlands, with 89 per cent recruiting from the region’s workforce or universities.

Nicola Hewitt, Commercial Director at the West Midlands Growth Company – which also operates the Regional Observatory – commented: “The West Midlands is home to one of the UK’s most vibrant digital and tech clusters. From world-renowned brands to creative start-ups, the industry supports more than 70,000 jobs in the region.

“Increasing numbers of tech and digital firms are locating and expanding here, attracted to the region’s talented workforce and accessibility to other growth sectors such as financial services and life sciences.

“It is critical for the future economic growth of the West Midlands to support our tech and digital companies – through local universities, incubator programmes, science parks and business networks – and ensure that this sector continues to thrive here.”

Tech and digital was the fifth biggest sector in the West Midlands Combined Authority area in 2016, with nearly 14,000 businesses. A wave of companies from this sector have located to the West Midlands, including US fintech specialist Lombard Risk Management plc – that is creating 140 jobs in the region – and HR software specialist Allegis Global Solutions, which is recruiting for 100 roles.

The industry is expected to be one of the region’s biggest growth areas over the next decade, with Birmingham already recognised as one of the country’s startup hotspots and the UK’s premier tech and digital centre outside of London.

Heike Schuster-James, Senior Development Manager at Birmingham City University, said: “Innovation Fest is always a great opportunity to see digital innovation in action. Students at our School of Computing are given the chance to showcase their final year projects.

“Projects covered a wide range from drone airspace management via cyber security to automated hydroponic plant growing.  Students’ digital skills reach from problem solving with big data to media production.

“This report really outlines just how important this kind of innovation and creativity can be to our region and to have it launched alongside such inspiring work makes it all the more fitting.”