Midlands Identity

The Midlands has a clear sense of identity in terms of how it can differentiate itself from other regions of the UK.

The Midlands Manufacturing Resilience Commission (M2R) is the brainchild of Mayor of the West Midlands, Andy Street, whose vision it was to create a Commission that reviewed the region’s competencies and provided recommendations to rebuild the manufacturing sector in the Midlands.

It will be on the foundations of this identity that it will create a sustainable vision of the future.

The overriding theme raised time and time again in our roundtable discussions was innovation, on which our manufacturing heritage is based; from the smelting of iron in Darley Dale and Necomen’s first steam engine in Dudley, to Coventry born Frank Whittle’s jet engine. These innovations have changed the world.

But it isn’t just these outstanding manufacturing examples - everywhere we looked we saw the same iconic innovation.

The region invented the nations favourite chocolate bars that continue to be made in Bourneville and across the West Midlands. Stilton cheese is world renowned, and whether you like it or not the bi-product of brewing beer in the region became Marmite. Northampton is proudly associated with innovation in shoe manufacturing, Nottingham and Leicester have a long and proud history in the textiles industries while the Midlands’ motorsport corridor is home to almost 3500 related companies and employs around 40,000 people.

It should be no surprise that there are close to 1,000 med-tech businesses operating in the Midlands – the largest cluster of such companies in the UK and that that three of our national Catapult Centres are based here in the Midlands, and the High Value Manufacturing Catapult national activity is directed from its HQ in Solihull.

Our proud heritage points the beacon to our future as the ‘innovation region’, but to achieve that objective, we need to understand;

a. Why the Midlands has fallen behind in manufacturing output whilst there has been such massive manufacturing growth around the world.

b. What actions we must take to achieve our aspiration for the Midlands to be at the very heart of the future of manufacturing in this country through innovation, skills and technology.

The regions response to the COVID crisis showed what we continue to be capable of as we answered the call to produce ventilators, PPE, face shields and masks in huge quantities to support the NHS and our key workers.

Our vision must be to build on the renewed confidence in the sector to enable the Midlands to become a resilient manufacturing force once again, prepared for whatever shocks that may be in store, whether those be political, environmental or technological.

To see the full list of chapters contained in the Report click here.

"The Midlands has a history of resilience. We are innovative and creative by nature, with a relationship to manufacturing like no other region in the country, or for that matter, the world. A relationship of which, I for one, am very proud."

Andy Street

Mayor of the West Midlands