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Posted on:
13th December, 2018

How an evidenced based approach is delivering a Local Industrial Strategy for the West Midlands

In the last year, Black Country LEP partners have played an integral role in the development of a West Midlands (3-LEP) Local Industrial Strategy (LIS), Below, we outline how an intelligence based approach and cross working with other LEPs is helping deliver the a Local Industrial Strategy for the West Midlands.

How an evidenced based approach is delivering a Local Industrial Strategy for the West Midlands

The Black Country LEP’s Economic Intelligence Unit (EIU) provides rigorous, best in class, economic analysis across the three key SEP themes of people, business and place. This intelligence is used to inform different stages of the policy-making cycle, including: critical assessment of the socioeconomic challenges of the area; evidence-based strategy and policy development; project and programme design and feasibility; programme management; and monitoring and evaluation.

In the last year, Black Country LEP partners have played an integral role in the development of a West Midlands (3-LEP) Local Industrial Strategy (LIS), working with colleagues through the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA). The Black Country EIU has led on the collation of the evidence base for the LIS, collecting and analysing the data and presenting it within various documents and publications to various parties.  The approach to the evidence base process has been three-fold:

Firstly, we have developed an extremely in-depth evidence base across the five foundations of productivity. Our content on the West Midlands economy as a whole is an extension of work within the WMCA Strategic Economic Plan and the measures included on the West Midlands Performance Management Framework (PMF). We have provided data on key indicators against the 5 foundations of productivity: ideas, people, business environment, infrastructure and places, utilising content from the annual West Midlands State of the Region report, most recently released in August 2018 (https://www.blackcountrylep.co.uk/about-us/west-midlands-combined-authority/wmca-state-of-the-region/).

Secondly working with wider partners and resources, the Black Country Consortium-led technical evidence group put together a detailed sector slide pack which included headline data on sectors as well as evidence demonstrating our competitive advantage across sectors, whether this be university expertise, incoming investment or an already well-established industry. These slides reflect our approach to look beyond the headline data and into the specificities that ensure the WMCA has distinctive clusters. Exploring deeper into sectors provide the detailed insight which informs our assessment of the WMCA economy’s “super-strengths” across sectors. The sector evidence base was used to inform and subsequently be refreshed as we developed our sector action plans.

Black Country LEP has led on four sector action plans: metals and materials, construction, aerospace and rail.  The sector action plans have been developed in partnership with key industry organisations, ensuring the plans are business-led.  Data is still an extremely important part of the evidence slides, but the addition of qualitative, expert insight is powerful when demonstrating the strength of a sector locally. Furthermore, the spatial dimension of each sector has been explored; this helps us to identify where in the region each sector is particularly strong when it comes to businesses or jobs.

And thirdly through an academic lead within the WMCA LIS group, a broad approach to the grand challenges has been developed. This involves identifying distinctive grand challenge focus areas for the West Midlands, linking these with major investment/activities in the region (e.g. Commonwealth Games, HS2) and look to co-ordinate research and innovation capabilities around these. Black Country Consortium and partners have supported the grand challenges evidence work and ensured it integrates clearly within the sector evidence base and the overall economy evidence base.

Collaboration & Validation

The collation of the knowledge obtained and carrying out further evidence work, both led by Black Country Consortium, has allowed the WMCA to develop its West Midlands Industrial Strategy confident that it understands the needs of businesses and communities in the region.

In developing this deep evidence base, we have worked with BEIS analysts and have shared expertise with Greater Manchester, to ensure that we are comprehensive and meeting Government expectations. Furthermore, to validate this evidence we have led on the setup of an independent “expert panel” who will review our evidence base and make some suggestions for the future.

Our evidence base is continually being updated and enhanced.

Our emerging evidence base is all available to view online via:

https://www.blackcountrylep.co.uk/about-us/west-midlands-combined-authority/local-industrial-strategy-evidence-base/