Booming Birmingham: a hub for industry and innovation

In 2017, Birmingham was named the most rapidly improving city to live and work in.

Falling unemployment and increased business investment in the area, as well as other factors such as good transport links, income levels and the housing market, put the West Midlands city at the top of the Good Growth for Cities index.

Over the past two years, Birmingham has continued to establish itself as a growing hub of commerce and investment. HSBC recently announced plans to relocate their headquarters to Birmingham, moving 1000 jobs there from the capital and joining the many other global-leading firms already established in the region. The arrival of HS2 also promises to increase commuter flows in and out of the city, with travel time between Birmingham and London cut to less than an hour. These infrastructural advancements and heightened interest are changing the wider perception of the city and its role in the UK economy.

Start-up culture is especially thriving. For the fifth year in a row, Birmingham was home to the second highest number of new start-ups in the UK in 2018, second only to London, with over 12,000 new businesses set up last year alone. This is 4,000 more than in Manchester, which ranked third. This is evidence of the city’s flourishing entrepreneurial spirit and status as an attractive location prospect for new businesses starting out, thanks to more cost-effective office space, excellent accelerator schemes and global accessibility.

Saqib Bhatti, Director of Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership, advised on this recent surge: “From creative to tech, professional services to retail, vibrant start-ups are helping to further cement the region’s reputation as a hotbed for industry and innovation.”

Birmingham is also the youngest major city in Europe; 40% of the population are under 25, representing huge potential in terms of future workforce. The strong university presence and increasing student retention post-graduation guarantees young, skilled talent for businesses looking to hire; two of the city’s business schools are ranked in the Financial Times Global Top 100.

Within the professional and financial services sector, Birmingham is a major UK hub, employing upwards of 130,000 people sector wide. This equates to roughly 25% of the employed population. The city centre boasts the UK’s largest regional accountancy cluster and is home to industry giants such as KPMG.

It is undoubtedly an exciting time for businesses in Birmingham, especially those within the BPFS sector. The city’s potential and trajectory of growth has started to pique global companies’ interest in the region over the past few years and transformed it into a strong innovation ecosystem – one which Williams Munroe is excited to be a part of.