Stoke Staffs LEP
Drive Midlands promotes Stoke-on-Trent & Staffordshire’s automotive strength
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Drive Midlands promotes Stoke-on-Trent & Staffordshire’s automotive strength

Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire’s thriving automotive industry remains open for business post-Brexit, as part of a cluster of global automotive research, engineering and manufacturing excellence. That is the message from Midlands Engine automotive inward investment supply chain programme Drive Midlands, ahead of one of the world’s biggest automotive engineering expos, the Advanced Engineering show on 2 and 3 November.

The Midlands currently accounts for more than 40% of all automotive production and has the highest concentration of automotive companies in the UK, with more than 60,000 people employed in the sector.

Drive Midlands will be showcasing the region’s strength and global capabilities at the Automotive Engineering 2016 show, part of Advanced Engineering at the NEC this week.

Firms from across the Midlands will be speaking on the Drive Midlands stand including engineering consultancy HSSMI, based at Aston University; an international group dedicated to the design, development and manufacture of metal automotive components; and Staffordshire-based Gestamp, an international group dedicated to the design, development and manufacture of metal automotive components.

David Shepherd, Senior Business Development Manager (Automotive) at Marketing Birmingham, which oversees the Drive Midlands initiative, said: “With world leading universities supporting vehicle manufacturers and supply chain research boosting an already-established skills base in the region, the Midlands is widely recognised as a centre of excellence for the automotive industry.

“Annual vehicle production is on the rise in the UK with an estimated £6 billion worth of components sourced overseas each year. There is a huge opportunity to bring production back to the UK and build the Midlands, and broader UK, as a global automotive hub.

“In the post-Brexit world, there is no better place for automotive supply chain companies to be than right here in the Midlands. We are keen to push that message with global industry players this week and start conversations that will bring further investment to the region.”

Led by Marketing Birmingham, Department for International Trade’s Automotive Investment Organisation (AIO) and 10 regional LEP partners, including Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire,  Drive Midlands offers a single point of reference for automotive businesses by coordinating local support services within the trade. In its first 12 months, it supported 1,200 automotive supply chain firms looking to grow and has helped attract five new companies to the area, creating 265 new jobs.

Simon Barnes from HSSMI said: “The High Speed Sustainable Manufacturing Institute bridges the gap between academia and industry. Our aim is to improve the efficiency of UK and European manufacturers and their value chains, so it’s vital that we have a presence in the largest automotive clusters, which includes the Midlands.

“Drive Midlands is vital not only in encouraging overseas investment to the region, but in coordinating local support services for the automotive sector and fostering greater collaboration with cutting edge organisations like HSSMI. We are proud to be a part of the local automotive industry and excited for the opportunities that lie ahead.”

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Launched in 2015, Drive Midlands is an initiative funded by public and private sector partnership to showcase, promote and support the automotive industry in the region.

The group is led by Marketing Birmingham and UK Trade & Investment’s Automotive Investment Organisation (AIO) and 10 regional LEP partners including: Derbyshire & Nottinghamshire, Greater Birmingham & Solihull, Black Country, Coventry & Warwickshire, Leicestershire, The Marches, South East Midlands, Northamptonshire, Stoke-on-Trent & Staffordshire, and Worcestershire.

The steering committee of the 10 LEPs is chaired by the Department for Business, Enterprise, Innovation and Skills and the AIO.

Private sector sponsors include Lloyds, Mills & Reeve and Arcadis.