The West Midlands Innovation Programme phase 2 (WMIP 2.0), launched in April 2023, addresses the Capability and Capacity strand of the West Midlands Innovation Accelerator, supporting cross-sector, demand-led innovation and enhancing the connectedness and operation of the region’s innovation ecosystem. WMIP 2.0 consolidates and scales a highly successful pilot phase (WMIP 1.0 2019-2022, funded by the West Midlands Combined Authority) which independent evaluation found to have effectively ‘coordinated development of the innovation support ecosystem’ and grown ‘expertise in innovation in different sectors’, leading to generation of additional GVA of over £28m.
WMIP 2.0 is led and managed by the West Midlands Combined Authority, enabling it to enhance other WM Innovation Accelerator projects and wider regional innovation activity, and constructively interact with further regional growth levers, e.g. skills. Central to WMIP 2.0 will be the Virtual Innovation Team (VIT) of sector innovation experts embedded in 10-12 diverse cluster/ sector bodies, bringing a strong private sector voice and capacity to identify and address business innovation barriers and enablers.
The WMCA Delivery Team and the VIT will continue to operate and develop a diverse and inclusive series of thematic working groups and sector agnostic events that enable networking, good practice sharing, connections and partnerships around innovation, thus building cross-cluster capacity and capability across the WM innovation ecosystem. Together with other aligned (but not WMIP funded) stakeholder activity, these networks all operate under ‘Innovation Alliance for the West Midlands’ banner.
In WMIP 2.0 a Flexible Innovation Pilot Fund will again enable the VIT to develop, with innovation ecosystem stakeholders, around 15 novel, collaborative interventions that overcome barriers to and exploit opportunities for demand-led innovation within and between sectors. WMIP 2.0 will also have a stronger focus on supporting about 5 successful pilot interventions (from WMIP 1.0 or 2.0) to scale within or into additional sectors, to attract investment and accelerate impact on WM growth. Whilst working across all the clusters identified in the WM Plan for Growth, WMIP 2.0 will support the WM Innovation Accelerator with additional resource and focus on the application of regional engineering, manufacturing and advanced computing strengths to the strategic priorities of Health/ Med Tech and Cleantech.
WMIP 2.0 is expected to yield even greater GVA impact that WMIP 1.0, e.g. Through business support, job creation, attraction of public and private funding, but there will be wider, sustained impact of a stronger, better connected innovation ecosystem in the West Midlands that will continue to enable demand-led and cross-sector innovation.
The impact of WMIP 2.0 can be anticipated by looking at the impacts of WMIP 1.0, so far. As well as independent evaluation calculating WMIP 1.0 to have generated over £28 million in additional GVA to date, the evaluation also concluded that WMIP 1.0 provided good value for money in terms of achieving its objectives. The report stated that WMIP 1.0 ‘has been successful in marshalling and leveraging resources within the region to support a step change in the coordination of the development of the region’s innovation support ecosystem. This has been achieved by creating a strong infrastructure that has allowed the programme to be responsive to changing circumstances and new opportunities. The pooling and funding of expertise in innovation in different sectors has created a much-needed centre of expertise to support the development of the region’s innovation ecosystem.’ WMIP 2.0 will allow this ‘marshalling of resources’, ‘coordinated development of the innovation support ecosystem’, responsive programme’ and ‘expertise in innovation in different sectors’ to continue, grow and adapt to the priorities of the WMIA and the Plan for Growth. This will provide powerful basis to ‘Develop the West Midland’s innovation ecosystem and drive local economic growth in support of Levelling Up’.
Given the strong foundation of WMIP 1.0, we expect even greater levels of outputs in WMIP 2.0, as follows:
new feasibility studies/pilot innovation interventions funded
WMIP 1.0 or 2.0 interventions scaled with addition public or private investment
new collaborations, many of them cross-sector
innovation network events for 6000 attendees
private and public sector resource levered