Colors: Purple Color

"Todays Queen's Speech reinforces the need for the UK to continue investing, both financially and logistically, in order to remain at the cutting edge of new vehicle technology - from propulsion systems to autonomous vehicles." commented Phil Harrold, automotive partner at PwC, about the Queen's speech, which focussed heavily on the digital economy and technology.

City of Wolverhampton Council has officially secured a landmark development site to boost its city regeneration plans. A £13.1 million deal was completed to purchase St George’s Parade on the eastern side of the city centre. It is a key strategic gateway that forms part of the City Centre Area Action Plan (AAP), occupying a highly prominent position next to the ring road, 250 metres from the city’s main shopping centre and railway station.

The head of West Midlands UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) is urging businesses from across the region to set Latin America and the Caribbean in their sights as hundreds of export opportunities come to the fore. Christine Hamilton, interim director of UKTI West Midlands, said now was the ideal time for businesses in the healthcare, education, oil and gas, marine, infrastructure, financial services, automotive or mining sectors to grow and expand their reach in countries such as Dominican Republic, Argentina, Mexico and Chile.

A report on housing need in the UK published by the Association for Public Service Excellence (APSE) and the Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA) calls for urgent Government action to deliver the homes needed in the UK. In Homes for all: Ensuring councils can deliver the homes we need, 72% of councils think that the viability test laid out in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) has hindered their ability to build social and affordable housing.

Plans to make nearly every vehicle in the country zero-emission by 2050 have taken a further step forward with the launch of a £2million government fund to encourage more businesses to switch to hydrogen-fuelled vehicles.  The Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle (FCEV) Fleet Support Scheme will allow local authorities, health trusts, police forces, fire brigades and private companies to bid for funding to add hydrogen-powered vehicles to their fleets.

A Birmingham-based charity that is dedicated to improving the safety of children on the roads is seeking £5,000 in crowdfunding to help produce an animated video series for primary schools. DriveSafe and StaySafe introduced ‘The Conies’ as a family of traffic cones that deliver road and personal safety messages through their comic adventures at a road safety song contest in Solihull last autumn.

A bumper Exporting is GREAT Week has resulted in more businesses from the West Midlands region signalling their intention to explore export opportunities. Figures reveal that 194 companies from across the area attended seven events over the Exporting is GREAT Week (April 18-22). Of these, 71 sought support from UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) for the first time – up almost a third from last year when Export Week in May 2015 attracted 131 companies from the area, which comprises the West Midlands, Worcestershire, Warwickshire, Staffordshire, Herefordshire, Worcestershire and Shropshire.

Brexit would be difficult for the UK but not “apocalyptic” and  Boris Johnson could become a Prime Minster grappling with an economy with a “significantly weakened” pound, a key Birmingham business event was told. And the UK’s renegotiating process could drag on for a decade amid a huge period of uncertainty, a special Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce think-tank addressed by top legal and financial experts heard.

The West Midlands is the UK’s most euro-sceptic region, according to a major new survey published by British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) on the EU referendum. According to the survey, if the EU referendum was held tomorrow, 45.2 per cent of West Midlands businesses would vote to stay in the EU, whilst almost as many (44.8 per cent) would vote to leave. A number of respondents, 9.7 per cent, were undecided.

The Black Country Chamber of Commerce held its EU Referendum debate at the Molineux, Wolverhampton, chaired by President Adrian Wright, the debate featured Johnnie Arkwright and Anthony Coombs from the Vote Leave: Take Control campaign and Wolverhampton MPs Pat McFadden and Emma Reynolds speaking on behalf of the Stronger In campaign, together with independent economist Paul Forrest from the Midlands Economic Forum.

Despite a productivity crisis in the UK, more than a third (39%) of employees in the Midlands are spending more time on tea breaks than on any form of work-based training, new research from the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) has found. The survey of both employees and managers working in finance/accountancy-related roles found one in seven (16%) staff in the Midlands have never had any form of work-related finance training.

Wolverhampton residents have picked up jobs with the city council’s Public Realm Services thanks to a fast track training programme for the unemployed. The unique course was coordinated by City of Wolverhampton Council’s Economic Inclusion Service in partnership with Wolverhampton Adult Education Services, Public Realm Services, YOO Recruitment, and Low Hill & Park Village Employment & Enterprise Group.

The average council in the West Midlands will need to pay a staggering £28 million a year to the government to fund their flagship Right to Buy extension, new research by Shelter has revealed. The policy, now being put through parliament as part of the government’s Housing and Planning Bill, would force local authorities to sell off a proportion of their council houses on the open market once they become vacant. 

Virgin Media Business #VOOM 2016 is offering a £1 million (€1.2 million) prize fund so entrepreneurs from the UK and Ireland can turn their visions into reality.  And, in association with LinkedIn, they’re searching for twelve Professional Advisors to help for a few days in June, to judge the country’s most exciting entrepreneurs. If you have the skills these entrepreneurs need, you could also have the opportunity to provide coaching and mentorship before they pitch directly to Richard Branson.