For the fifth year in a row, the West Midlands has been hailed as the UK’s leading location for foreign investment outside of London and the South East.
Data from the Department for International Trade reveal that the region attracted 157 new projects funded from outside the UK in 2019/20. This accounts for 8 per cent of the country’s total and is the largest share generated outside of the capital and its surrounds.
Since 2015, the biggest sources of foreign investment in the West Midlands have been the USA, Germany, France and India, making a total of 802 investments. The most popular sectors for attracting international firms have been business, professional and financial services, advanced manufacturing, transport technologies and technology and digital.
A notable Black Country example has been the 2016 purchase of Wolverhampton Wanderers Football Club by Fosun, one of China’s largest investment groups, for £45m. Under the leadership of Jeff Shi, the club had a standout 2018 season that culminated in promotion to the English Premier League. This was followed by successive seventh-place top-flight finishes – the club’s best placing in 40 years – and a successful UEFA Europa League campaign.
Fosun’s commitment to Wolverhampton extends beyond the pitch, with plans to extend the historic Molineux stadium and work in partnership with City of Wolverhampton Council and the University of Wolverhampton to enhance the area around it to attract more fans and visitors to the city.
Other examples from the wider West Midlands region include global professional services consultancy Alvarez & Marsal opening a new office in Birmingham, IPG Photonics, the world’s leading manufacturer of fibre lasers, building a new UK head office in Coventry, and India’s leading digital IT transformation company, Microland, opening a new state-of-the-art European headquarters in Birmingham. Rail firm Deutsche Bahn Engineering & Consulting also set up new UK and Ireland headquarters in Birmingham, creating jobs and supporting skills development in the region.
Neil Rami, chief executive at the West Midlands Growth Company, said: “Even amid a period of global economic uncertainty, the West Midlands has performed consistently strongly in attracting overseas investment, which speaks volumes about the quality of what we have to offer across a diverse breadth of industries.
“Our region is set to benefit from many exciting and exclusive milestones – such as the 2021 Coventry City of Culture, 2022 Commonwealth Games, new HS2 rail infrastructure and 5G multi-city testbed facilities – which will give us a uniquely competitive advantage over other locations to attract investment in the future.”
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