Top local entrepreneurs help plan boost to Midlands’ economy

  • Successful entrepreneurs and business leaders meet to discuss ambitious plans to create jobs and boost the economy in the Midlands
  • Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick convenes first ever meeting of group to power the Midlands Engine
  • Group will meet biannually to drive forward plans to level up the region

A group of renowned entrepreneurs and business leaders from across the Midlands has been convened by Communities Secretary and Midlands Engine Ministerial Champion Robert Jenrick today (9 February 2021) as part of the government’s ambitious agenda to level up the regions.

The Midlands Engine Business Council had around 30 top business leaders from across the region and was co-chaired by Mr Jenrick and Midlands Engine Chair Sir John Peace. Attendees included:

  • Ben Francis who has grown Gymshark into a billion-pound brand
  • Liv Garfield who brings almost 7 years’ experience as CEO of Severn Trent
  • Steve Scrimshaw, vice president of Siemens Energy who started his career as an apprentice in the energy sector and now brings over 40 years’ industry experience

Together they discussed ambitious plans to deliver jobs, skills and investment throughout the Midlands as we build back better and grasp opportunities outside of the European Union.

The industry leaders discussed how to overcome challenges posed by the pandemic and committed to working closer together to grow the global footprint of the Midlands as the region plans to build back better.

The Midlands is set to be centre stage with Coventry as the 2021 UK City of Culture and Birmingham hosting the 2022 Commonwealth Games.

Communities Secretary and Midlands Engine Champion Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP said:

Since the Industrial Revolution, the Midlands has been a major driving force of the UK economy.

The region has led the way in industries as diverse as automotive, medtech, aerospace and finance and is home to many famous British brands.

This proud tradition of innovation will play a key part in Britain’s global agenda and post-pandemic recovery.

That is why I am proud to be bringing together such an impressive group providing a stronger voice for businesses across the Midlands as we work together to boost prosperity across the region.

Chair of the Midlands Engine Partnership, Sir John Peace said:

Our Business Council will provide challenge, embed the voice of industry in our strategic planning and act as a valued conduit for industry to government exchange, focused on the needs of the Midlands.

It will be an important part of our work in partnership as together we take bold steps towards recovery and green growth, for every part of the Midlands Engine.

The council met for the first time today and will meet every 6 months to collaborate on how best to drive growth and productivity throughout the Midlands and help level up the region, making it an even better place to live, work, study and do business.

Further information

The Midlands is home to over 10 million people and has a £238 billon economy, generating over 12% of the UK’s Gross Value Added. The Midland Engine Partnership aim to close the productivity gap to match or exceed the national average by 2030.

The Midlands is home to almost 880,000 businesses, 20 universities and 2 international airports and in 2019, the Midlands accounted for a 22% share of all of England’s goods exports.

17 towns across the Midlands Engine region have been awarded funding totalling over £220 million as part of the Future High Streets Fund.

The £250 million Midlands Engine Investment Fund has, as of October 2020, invested £90 million into 324 small and medium businesses in the region, with a further £82 million of private sector investment being leveraged.

Spending Review 2020 announced over £500 million to upgrade the A46 Newark Bypass and A38 at Derby, as well as £118.5 million Birmingham Commonwealth Games funding to support the games in 2022.

LEPs across the region have received £214 million from the Getting Building Fund.

The Midlands Engine Partnership brings together the Mayor of the West Midlands Combined Authority, Councils, Local Enterprise Partnerships and universities in order to drive growth and investment across the region.

List of attendees


  • Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP – Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government and Midlands Engine Ministerial Champion
  • Sir John Peace – Chair, Midlands Engine Partnership


  • Fiona Allan – CEO, Birmingham Hippodrome
  • Simon Bird – Regional Director Humber, Associated British Ports
  • Sonu Bubna – CEO,
  • Professor Alec Cameron – Vice-Chancellor, Aston University
  • Nick Crossfield – Managing Director, Alstom UK & Ireland
  • Ben Francis – Owner, Gymshark
  • Liv Garfield – CEO, Severn Trent
  • Matthew Hammond – Midlands Regional Leader, PwC
  • Dr Clive Hickman – CEO, Manufacturing Technology Centre
  • Clare James – Managing Director, East Midlands Airport
  • Dr Michaela Kendall – CEO, Adelan
  • Dr Nik Kotecha – CEO, Morningside Pharmaceuticals
  • Deborah Leary – CEO, Forensic Pathways
  • Ursula Lidbetter – CEO, Lincolnshire Cooperative
  • Graeme Macdonald – CEO, JCB
  • Jeannie McGillivray – CEO, Remote
  • Professor Kathryn Mitchell – Vice-Chancellor, University of Derby
  • Kavita Oberoi – Managing Director, Oberoi Consulting and Oberoi Business Hub
  • Professor Nat Puri – Founder, Purico Group
  • Steve Scrimshaw – Vice-President, Siemens Energy UK
  • Mayor Andy Street – Mayor of the West Midlands Combined Authority and former Managing Director, John Lewis
  • Ian Stuart – CEO, HSBC UK
  • Paul Thandi – CEO, NEC Group
  • Stephen Vickers – CEO, Devonshire Group


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