Our city and region is ready for you and your business. Explore this snapshot to find out why.
We have regional, national, European and global connections. To keep us ahead £1.3 billion will be invested in our networks by 2015.
Easy access to 400 million people across Europe
90% of UK consumers are within four hours travel time
High Speed 2 rail – London in less than 45 minutes
50 airlines serving more than 140 routes worldwide
Our talented people use their skills and expertise across a range of key sectors.
60% of the UK’s automotive R&D from the region
More BPFS companies than Zurich, Manchester and Edinburgh
23,700 people in architecture and engineering
500 medical technology companies, more than any other UK region
Birmingham was voted best UK city outside of London for quality of life (Mercer Quality of Living 2012).
With more than 600 parks and open spaces and Sutton Park as one of the largest urban parks in Europe there is always space to breathe
Slow down. Explore more miles of canal than Venice
Secure future - 10 Local Nature Reserves and 156 designated nature conservation sites
Indoors, outdoors, participate, watch or find space and quiet to get away from it all. You will always be able to relax and unwind.
Birmingham was ranked among the New York Times’ top 20 international destinations to visit.
Explore cuisine from more than 27 countries and dine in more Michelin star restaurants than any other English city outside London
More than 500,000 works of art in one square mile
Our large talent pool is highly ranked now. It will stay that way.
4.3 million people of working age within an hour of the city
Over 300,000 students and 100,000 graduates within an hour’s drive of the city
A digital hub - for example 21% of the UK's games industry workforce is here
Nearly 1 million people speak a second language
Our £94 billion regional economy will grow 20% by 2020
Innovative economic zones generating £1.5bn and 50,000 new jobs
Home to 75,000 companies, 1,190 of which are international
Our population will grow to 1.17million by 2018 (ONS)
Birmingham New Street helps move nearly 25million passengers annually
Europe's youngest city, with under 25's nearly 40% of our population
We are investing £18 billion by 2026 in a bold 21st Century regeneration plan.
£1.3 billion will be invested in road, rail and air networks by 2015
£25 million is going in to the Digital Media Academy and £188 million on the new Library of Birmingham
A £600 million redevelopment of New Street Station is underway
Digital giant plugs into Birmingham talent
Virgin Media recently demonstrated its confidence in Birmingham’s burgeoning hi-tech and digital cluster with a multi-million pound investment.
The digital communications heavyweight chose the city as the location for its new centre of excellence in customer service operations in October 2012.
Creating a hub of opportunity in the region, the site at Eagle Court, just outside Birmingham city centre, features Virgin Media’s Apprentice Training Centre. Some 900 young people have so far gained invaluable career development in Virgin Media’s government-championed national apprenticeship scheme, and another 150 are currently learning the ropes to help meet the demand for superfast broadband, next-generation TV, landline and mobile services.
Maurice Daw, chief of people at Virgin Media, explained that the talent pool in the area was a key factor in the company’s decision to invest in Birmingham. The city region’s digital sector – ranging from cutting-edge SMEs to global players – is producing a new generation of talented staff, from technology experts to customer service specialists.
“As the proud employer of 1,200 people across the West Midlands, we know the area is brimming with talent and ingenuity. Being able to invest in brilliant staff means we can develop top quality communications and entertainment services and support the local communities we serve.”
Together with the Apprentice Training Centre, Eagle Court is also home to Virgin Media’s Advanced Engineering and Technology Lab, a place where the company’s engineering teams test and explore future technology. Having been at the forefront of a digital and broadband revolution over the past decade or so, Virgin Media uses the centre to trial cutting-edge advancements ahead of releasing them more widely to customers across the country.
Previously, Virgin Media had a number of sites spread around the region. These locations have largely been consolidated into the new operational base at Eagle Court, which is now home to around 1,000 employees covering a range of roles, including customer care, field sales, local IT, field operations as well as network planners. Eagle Court’s bespoke facilities have been designed to improve collaboration and working practices, as well as creating a colourful, fun place to work.
Business Birmingham, the city region’s inward investment programme backed by the European Regional Development Fund, also worked closely with Virgin Media on its plans to invest in the city by supporting its recruitment strategy and connecting the company to other local businesses in the area.
“Through these investments, we hope to give young people in Birmingham and further afield an important opportunity to get themselves on to the employment ladder. With the digital media industry growing at such a rapid rate, these jobs will positively contribute to the region and to the wider UK economy.”
Birmingham is also a major site for Virgin Media Business, where the company invests in developing cutting-edge telecommunications services for the public and private sectors. Last summer the company partnered with Innovation Birmingham Campus, one of the city’s key sites for the tech and start-up community, in a series of free digital workshops for local organisations. And it is supporting hundreds of young entrepreneurs by giving them support and training in the latest digital skills so that they can boost their prospects and drive job creation, both now and in the future.
Heterarchy has grand designs for Birmingham
Just a few weeks after opening a new office in Birmingham in June 2013, interior design agency Heterarchy won the biggest contract in its 11 year history. And within nine months, managing director Tony Matters was already looking for larger premises to accommodate his growing team.
“We knew almost immediately that the investment in Birmingham would pay off,” said Matters. “We were confident there were opportunities for us here, but it was only when we invested in a permanent office that we realised the size and dynamism of the market.”
Originally based in Leicester, where it still maintains a small base, Heterarchy launched its Birmingham office to focus on the city’s vibrant hospitality and leisure market. The SME had already won plaudits for its work on the Michelin-starred Adam’s Restaurant in the city centre, and Matters was keen to build on that success as the foundation for further growth.
With help and advice from inward investment programme Business Birmingham – which is supported by the European Regional Development Fund – he viewed a number of potential locations in the city. He eventually opted for the Custard Factory, a creative and media hub in Digbeth just 15 minutes’ walk from Birmingham’s central business district.
The Custard Factory is home to a thriving community of organisations of all sizes, from online retail giant ASOS to digital start-ups, and Matters was convinced it was ideal for Heterarchy.
“Business Birmingham recommended we look at the Custard Factory, and it was actually the first place we saw. It’s been redeveloped to a very high standard and we couldn’t fault it. It was a cost-effective, low-risk option,” he said.
The office opened with two full-time staff and a part-time business development manager. It has since added two more full-time designers and is currently recruiting for a third. Indeed, such has been the speed of the business’s growth that it has already moved to larger premises within the Custard Factory.
As Heterarchy expands, Matters said that Birmingham’s large talent pool will make it much easier to find suitably experienced recruits and freelancers – a key factor given his ambitions for the company.
“There are a lot of hospitality and leisure companies in the region, from big players like Marston’s and Mitchells & Butlers, to ambitious start-ups and fast-growing specialist outfits. There’s an awful lot going on here; a real sense of confidence and purpose. For a business like ours, it’s got to be one of the best places in the UK to be,” said Matters.
Client profile: The SRA is the legal regulatory body for approximately 128,000 solicitors working for more than 11,000 law firms based in England and Wales, many with international reach.
Number of employees: 550
Business support services: Property identification, cost analysis, local labour pool analysis, city tours, support on transport links, PR & marketing
The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) relocated its headquarters to the centre of Birmingham in October 2012, moving over 550 staff to offices in The Cube, a prestigious new development.
The SRA chose Birmingham due to its great transport links, a well-established and respected legal district, which is home to over 19,000 employees within the sector, and the largest local law society in the country - The Birmingham Law Society.
Business Birmingham helped the SRA’s move from the very start – from providing early information about potential locations, right through to assisting with detailed transport options for staff.
Antony Townsend, chief executive of the SRA (pictured right), talked about the reasons behind the organisation’s move to Birmingham and how it received crucial assistance from Business Birmingham.
The SRA, which regulates approximately 128,000 solicitors working for more than 11,000 law firms based in England and Wales, was previously based in two main offices 20 miles apart in Redditch, Worcestershire, and Leamington Spa, Warwickshire.
"When the decision was made to merge the offices in a single location, we rapidly came to the conclusion that Birmingham was the city of choice.”
"We have a lot of interactions with consumer groups, members of the solicitors’ profession and law firms, so having an office in an accessible place was very important to us and Birmingham offered very good transport links.
Birmingham is a major centre, with a very well-established and prestigious legal district. We will be able to draw on a strong talent pool when we recruit, because of our central Birmingham location.
The property position in the city is also good and there are many desirable places to live in the Birmingham city region that are easily commutable, thanks to the good transport links.
And our sister organisation, the Legal Ombudsman, is also in Birmingham in Baskerville House, so one of the spin-off attractions of Birmingham is being very close to them.
SRA is also keen to support local businesses in its move to the city;
We hope to be contributing to the economy of Birmingham and we will seek to use local suppliers such as catering companies and venue and conferencing facilities.”
The SRA praised Business Birmingham for the excellent services it provided towards making the relocation as smooth as possible.
"We worked closely with Business Birmingham and had a lot of support, ranging from early information about Birmingham and potential locations in the city centre, right through to helping staff with things like transport options and car parking.
For any organisation whose employees have only worked in one or two places in their lives, and who’ve never worked in a city centre, it’s quite a big change. Business Birmingham provided a lot of data early on, and was particularly helpful in the big job of preparing the workforce.”
Birmingham is the most attractive UK regional city for quality of life, according to the Mercer Quality of Living global survey, and the SRA’s staff morale has been lifted by moving to the city.
"Birmingham feels very lively. Going into the city centre is quite motivating for organisations; it gives the feeling of a place on the up; it’s got a good buzz. It has both law firms and consumer organisations with whom we want to do business and it’s the kind of place that our staff enjoy working in.
Being in modern city centre premises has a professional feel. The single, modern, open-plan office simply makes the day-to-day business more efficient and helps bind the organisation together.”
The SRA plans to become a leading organisation in Birmingham – both in terms of contributing to the city’s economy and its community.
"We will be contributing to the city’s economy; we require things like office supplies, catering and, on occasions, external venues for holding conferences.
We’re also keen to be a good employer and have started talking to the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce and others about community activities, for example, working with local schools.
We want to be seen as a highly professional, consumer focused, modern regulator and being in Birmingham will assist us in that.”
Find out more about how Business Birmingham can support investors by contacting us.