This week, Theresa May reveals her plans for Britain’s industrial strategy, explaining how she will, in her own words, “get the whole economy firing.” One of the prime minister’s early moves was to rebrand the business ministry as the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, and on Friday, the Rt Greg Clark, Secretary of this department, officially opened our extended Birmingham regional HQ, home to 500 of our employees here in the West Midlands.
This is rather fitting when you consider that Birmingham is already stoking the economic fire. The city’s business base grew by 8.1 per cent during 2016, ahead of Manchester at 7.2 per cent and London at 6.4 per cent. Marketing Birmingham, the city's business development body, attributed this growth to the professional services, life sciences and digital.
Welcoming members of the West Midlands business community in attendance at the Mailbox office on Friday, the Minister commented;
“It’s a privilege and an honour to mark the official opening of Advanced’s Birmingham HQ today and to share in its success. Any business that has hired 200 staff already with a further 200 hires planned this year is a business to look up to and learn from. There are huge benefits of building connected business communities as businesses attract businesses which is of huge importance to this region.”
Adding to these sentiments, Neil Rami, chief executive of inward investment agency Marketing Birmingham, and another guest at the opening, recently said:
“Birmingham has simultaneously outpaced the capital city to become the UK’s leading destination for business growth, and is the UK’s number one regional destination for start-up creation. The city’s young, talented workforce, newly developed infrastructure, and range of incubator and accelerator programmes, has fostered a strong ecosystem that fuels a culture of innovation.”
Advanced became part of the West Midlands business community last year and the opening of the initial offices marked a pivotal moment of establishing ourselves in this vibrant business community. It was exciting to have some of the leading influencers from the region, including Andy Street CBE, former Managing Director of John Lewis and Conservative Party candidate for Mayor of the West Midlands, and Dr. David Hardman MBE, CEO, Digital Leaders West Midlands there to support us.
To make sure that our industries and markets are open to change and competition, we must make sure that the benefits of innovation will inclusively and positively change the way that people live their lives. With 20,000 customers operating all over the UK, many based in this very region, we feel we have a responsibility to always look for ways to get closer to them, support their goals and keep in touch with the priorities and the challenges they are facing.
That’s why regional strategy is so important. We also want to attract the best talent, and we believe that flagship offices in major regional hubs will help reach the highest potential candidates possible. The Mailbox in Birmingham has already proved to be the ideal location for our West Midlands regional hub. At the recent CBI conference there was a lot of talk about smart cities, effectively a digitised and connected city that makes intelligent use of data, and we believe Birmingham is already well on its way to achieving that goal. It already has one of the UK’s strongest performing digital economies with more than 6,000 firms, including a range of innovative SMEs, employing some 38,300 people and delivering £1.6 billion to the local economy. And with thousands of students studying computer science or business in the city each year, there a lot of millennial tech talent, too.
With this in mind, Advanced launched its major talent acquisition programme in April 2016. This aimed to recruit 1,000 new people over the next 18 months, 400 of which will be based at the Midlands HQ. In fact, we have already recruited over 200 new candidates into the Mailbox office, 75% from the local region. These are all high-performing, dynamic individuals looking for exciting and progressive fast-track careers in the tech industry. We hope this will help to underpin the growth of the region and demonstrate our commitment for business growth.
In a period of intense disruption, where technology and significant economic and political challenges are driving a pace of unprecedented change, we must see the positives and take it as an opportunity for innovation, growth and prosperity for British businesses – businesses like Advanced. At Advanced, we are all advocates in ensuring Britain creates sustainable prosperity across the UK and it was a proud moment to hear the overwhelming support of our strategy from the Minister. We hope to be able to play a part in informing Britain’s industrial strategy over the forthcoming months and help to build a strong, sustainable and thriving community that is firing on all digital fires and making Britain fit for the future.
Gordon Wilson, CEO, Advanced