More than 500 delegates from across the East and West Midlands attended the first Midlands Engine Trade Summit in Birmingham. Businesses keen to start exporting or step up their global reach took part in the day-long event at The Vox, to learn how the Midlands Engine can support their plans for international business growth.

International Trade Minister Mark Garnier, who delivered the keynote speech, said the Midlands Engine is a commitment to harness the region’s 11.5 million people, a fast-growing economy and to create jobs and growth that spread prosperity.

He said: “When it comes to the Midlands, it is clear that with great potential comes great expectation. If the Midlands matches its predicted growth over the next 15 years, it will; create 300,000 jobs and inject £34 billion into the UK economy. The Midlands Engine is how we go about meeting that expectation.”

More than 27,000 businesses in the Midlands export nearly £40 billion worth of products to over 100 countries and that the Midlands Engine will provide practical support for businesses, including 20 trade missions by 2020.

Already 80 Midlands firms have taken part on missions led by DIT across the globe, which should generate £5 million worth of deals over the next 12 months.

Mr Garnier added:

“We are putting companies into rooms with buyers from Shanghai, New York and Dubai. A simple face to face meeting with the right contacts can be a game changer.”

Afterwards, delegates took part in specialist workshops, where they heard from a range of experts about how they can export their goods and services overseas. Dozens of one-to-one meetings were also booked with experts in the fields of finance, overseas markets and export.

Ian Harrison, acting director of the Midlands Director of Exports, said:

“We were extremely pleased to see more than 500 attend the first Midlands Engine Trade Summit. It is testament to the fact that there are many ambitious businesses across the East and West Midlands that want to tap into the opportunities overseas.”

Twenty-eight Export Champions were unveiled at the Summit, all exporters from the East and West Midlands. They will engage with SMEs and local businesses, promote the Department for International Trade’s Exporting is GREAT campaign and digital tool, which helps UK businesses break onto overseas markets.

The Export Champion programme will provide practical advice and support to drive further growth in exports.