The latest study by Grant Thornton marks the launch of the firm's Vibrant Economy agenda, a nationwide inquiry to unlock the shared potential of the UK.
Working with the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) and YouGov, Grant Thornton has identified a range of growth opportunities which could boost UK GVA (Gross Value Added) by £479bn by 2025 if GVA per worker in every region matched the G7 average (excluding the UK itself).
A vital component of future growth is international trade. The study shows that businesses across the West Midlands were the largest regional contributor to UK exports in the third quarter of 2015 after London and the South East, accounting for 10% of goods exported.
David Hillan, practice leader for Grant Thornton in Birmingham, said: “This emphasises the vital role the West Midlands plays in the health of our nation’s trade figures.
“It also echoes our work with clients, particularly regional manufacturing businesses, the majority of whom are either trading or seeking to trade internationally.”
The research also found that good infrastructure such as transport links, location and broadband, were deemed by local business owners as the most important factor to grow their revenues, with 78% picking this as a top priority.
Hillan said: “The West Midlands is on the brink of an incredibly exciting period in its economic history.
“HS2, the devolution of power via the new West Midlands Combined Authority and its desire to create a Midlands Engine for Growth all have the capability to improve the region’s infrastructure.
“This will not just impact existing businesses, but also encourage new businesses to form and companies – both domestic and international - to relocate here.
“Our research showed that the West Midlands region has just 869 businesses per 10,000 adults compared to 1,434 in London, which illustrates that there is a huge amount of headroom for entrepreneurial activity in the region.”
The battle for talent remains a hot topic for West Midlands’ businesses, with 63% citing the ability to attract talented employees as vital for business growth.
And when asked to rank what would enable their business to reach its full potential, having a clear business strategy was closely followed by retaining and developing employees and creating a positive working environment.