Drive Midlands, which was formed just over a year ago, is now set to expand to cover both the East and West Midlands following its early success.
The programme, led by Marketing Birmingham and UK Trade & Investment’s Automotive Investment Organisation, provides a single point of reference for businesses by coordinating local support services for the sector, and collaborates with providers to deliver higher and further education skills development.
The programme also works in partnership with regional partners including: Black Country LEP, Coventry & Warwickshire, Marches, Stoke-on-Trent & Staffordshire and Worcestershire.
David Shepherd, Senior Business Development Manager (Automotive) at Marketing Birmingham, which oversees the Drive Midlands initiative, said:
"The automotive sector in the UK is growing rapidly, creating an increasing number of opportunities across both the East and the West Midlands where our businesses have unrivalled expertise and experience.
"This expansion will create an even more comprehensive central hub for businesses and will allow greater coordination of support services for the automotive sector, enabling even better collaboration.
"Internationally, the Midlands region has always had a reputation for automotive excellence and this expansion will support the development of our supply chain and help safeguard the future of the automotive industry here."
One of the companies to benefit from Drive West Midlands’ support is Otechos Engines Ltd, a Cannock-based subsidiary of Norwegian engineering company Otechos.
Andrew Scarrott, managing director at Otechos Engines, said that Drive West Midlands had played a crucial role in helping them develop their business. Scarrott said:
"Norway doesn’t have an indigenous motor industry so the West Midlands was a natural destination for us when we decided to think about a UK-based subsidiary. It was clear to us that Drive West Midlands had helped to develop a unique automotive community and we wanted to be part of that.
"David and his team have since supported us with mentoring, introductions to collaborators, events and networking, and developing our business plan. It has meant we are now talking to some of the biggest names in the automotive sector about a revolutionary combustion engine prototype.
"Expanding the existing community to incorporate the East Midlands too is excellent news for businesses like ours."