The number of foreign investments into Birmingham has risen by more than half in the last 12 months as a result of the city’s continued drive to attract more inward investment, according to new research from the Marketing Birmingham Regional Observatory.
Birmingham attracted a 52% increase in foreign direct investment (FDI) projects in 2012/13, with the city securing 41 new projects compared with 27 in 2011/12. The 41 projects created and safeguarded 4,003 jobs for the city – an increase of 29%. The jobs will boost the local economy by an estimated £174 million.
Since launching in April 2011, Business Birmingham, the city‘s inward investment programme, has helped to double the number of foreign investment projects coming to the city from 19 in 2010/11 to the 41 reported in today’s analysis.
Neil Rami, Chief Executive of Marketing Birmingham, which operates Business Birmingham said: “These results demonstrate that Birmingham has what it takes to win over new foreign direct investment despite tough competition from locations across the globe.
“Our focus on key sectors and growth markets is beginning to pay dividends. This year we have successfully broadened our international reach, strengthened our relationship with UKTI and developed a stronger network of local partner support.”
The six sectors targeted for investment by Business Birmingham accounted for four in every five investments in 2012/13. They are advanced engineering; business, professional & financial services; digital media; life sciences; food & drink and IT, Electronics and Communications (ITEC).
Reflecting Birmingham’s established strengths in advanced engineering, nearly half (42%) of the city’s investment projects came from this sector. This included the opening of a new European Manufacturing Hub by Australian packaging company tna, and the expansion of Chinese-owned SAIC UK’s European Design Centre.
ITEC comprised 12% of investments, followed by digital media and life sciences (both 10%). Projects from these sectors included German prosthetics company Otto Bock Healthcare moving into Minworth Trade Park and Australian online retailer Tinyme setting up its UK base at the Innovation Birmingham Campus.
From niche SMEs in high-growth industries to established global conglomerates, companies from 15 countries have located, invested or expanded in Birmingham in the last year. They include French spraying manufacturer Exel Industries; Canadian serious games developer Ayogo; and US-headquartered online marketing specialist ReachLocal.
The US continues to be the largest investor in Birmingham, accounting for nearly a third (27%) of companies locating in the city in the last 12 months. Mirroring Business Birmingham’s international sales strategy, Australia and India (both 12%) and Germany (10%) follow.
Business Birmingham has expanded its international profile and reach over the last 12 months with experts based in North America, India, Australia, Germany and China working with the Birmingham team to promote local investment opportunities. International media coverage of Birmingham as a place to do business also doubled in 2012/13.
Business Birmingham recently launched two tools to help investors locate in the city. They include a pilot Mobile Investment Fund, backed by Birmingham City Council, which will provide financial incentives to companies needing additional support to establish a presence in the city and employ local staff. The programme also launched its Business Catalyst programme, which packages together the support on offer from the city for new investors.
Wouter Schuitemaker, Investment Director of Business Birmingham, said: “Widening the international profile of the city’s investor base is a cornerstone of Business Birmingham’s future strategy and will see us pursuing investment from new targets such as Japan, Spain, Ireland and France over the next 12 months.
“With the launch of a new Mobile Investment Fund and the Business Catalyst Programme, we are now providing companies with the tools to develop investments here more quickly than in other locations.”
More than half of the 4,003 roles (57%) reported in today’s results were created by new investments to the city rather than acquisitions; a growth of 64% on the previous year. The balance towards job creation rather than safeguarded roles is significant given the new employment opportunities it provides for the local workforce.
Sir Albert Bore, Leader of Birmingham City Council commented: “Much work has gone into developing Birmingham’s profile and potential as an international business city over the last few years. As the figures show, we are beginning to see it translate into new investments and jobs in our local economy.
“These investments are hopefully just the beginning for companies that could grow to employ thousands of people, boost the skills of our workforce and create clusters of excellence that will attract even further investment here.”
UK Trade & Investment, the national body responsible for inward investment and exporting, is expected to announce the UK’s preliminary FDI figures for 2012/13 on Thursday. Last year Birmingham attracted a 37% increase in inward investment projects during 2011/12 against a national decline of 2% across the UK.