Greater Birmingham leads foreign investment surge

Further evidence of the region’s international appeal.

There were more foreign investment projects in Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP (GBSLEP) last year than any other English region, new data reveals.

The number of FDI – foreign direct investment – projects in the Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP area rose by 57%, to 77, which trumped the 37 other regions, data for the 2014 financial year shows. The region also created the most jobs – a total of 4,841 – a 98% increase on the previous year, compared to 3,350 at its nearest challenger New Anglia LEP.

The 77 foreign investment success in Greater Birmingham demonstrates support for the region’s traditional strengths like advanced manufacturing and the automotive industry, and backing for fast-growing new industries like digital media and IT services.

The data is revealed in a UKTI report, which states: “Greater Birmingham and Solihull saw the biggest increase in 13/14 with project numbers increasing by 57 per cent from 49 in 2012/13 to 77 in 13/14.

“Black Country, Lancashire and New Anglia all saw large percentage increases in FDI projects with an additional 14, 19, and 13 projects respectively as compared 2012/13. 3 LEPs saw their project numbers decrease this year as compared with last year.”

The number of new jobs created in the Greater Birmingham area rose to 4,841 from 2,439 in 2013, with significant investment and jobs coming from the advanced manufacturing sector.

Jaguar Land Rover led the charge with a £1.5 billion investment in its Solihull site as part of plans to develop an all-new technically advanced aluminium vehicle architecture. Vax, the household floorcare manufacturer owned by Hong Kong-based TechTronic Industries, was another leading name to show its commitment to the area by placing its new R&D facility in the heart of Birmingham’s Colmore Business District.

The dramatic increase in investment to the Greater Birmingham area has been fuelled in part by growth in the digital sector. The recent influx of overseas digital investment has coincided with the BBC announcing that its new digital innovation team will be developed in Birmingham. The region will also serve as its base for running creative and digital apprenticeships.

The area’s thriving financial and professional services sector also saw a boost with German investment house, Deutsche Bank, announcing its ambition to become the largest trading bank in the city.

Further major investors in the professional sector include Hogan Lovells, a growing American law firm, which chose Birmingham ahead of other regional cities as the location for its new UK legal centre. DTZ, the global real estate consultancy, also brought its European financial control centre to Greater Birmingham from Eastern Europe.

The good news coming out of Greater Birmingham reflects the national success, as the UK as a whole secured a record 67,000 new jobs from FDI projects, an impressive 17% increase on last year.

Commenting on the results, Sir Albert Bore, Leader of Birmingham City Council said: “Birmingham has pulled out all the stops to build its offer to investors, its international profile and connectivity. Today’s statistics are proof that this is working. Our strong infrastructure and international relationships have been a magnet for FDI. We are leading the way as England’s strongest region and city for inward investment.”

Chairman of the GBSLEP, Andy Street, added: “Greater Birmingham has worked hard to maintain its position as a leading global destination for foreign businesses looking to invest. The Birmingham/Solihull area is leading the way on exports, start-ups and manufacturing. FDI has been the catalyst for this success. These latest FDI figures are testament to the appeal of Greater Birmingham, and it is tremendous news that the GBSLEP is at the forefront of delivering economic growth in the regions.”

Neil Rami, Chief Executive of Marketing Birmingham, said: “These results cap a great week for investment confidence in Greater Birmingham. Whilst the city leads the way on delivering HS2 with the launch of the Birmingham Curzon Regeneration Company and construction HQ, today’s news shows that we’ve built on our strong manufacturing heritage, and diversified into digital technology and professional services. The investment pipeline across all our target sectors is strong and our challenge will be to ensure we maximise local employment prospects.”