West Midlands to become the UK’s Energy Capital

The West Midlands region of Climate-KIC UK & Ireland is one step closer to establishing an energy-focused climate innovation cluster following the launch of Energy Capital.

Energy Capital is about working in partnership across sectors to grow local and industrial energy systems across the region, rather than, for example, focusing on specific products or companies. 

As Chair Matthew Rhodes puts it:

Energy Capital creates a single voice for the West Midlands on energy. It brings together the key institutions, infrastructure providers, and public bodies so investors and businesses can connect efficiently with the most promising market opportunities in partnership with our world-leading knowledge base. It will ensure our citizens and businesses of all sizes benefit from global energy system transformation.

With 10,000 companies working in the energy supply chain across the West Midlands, alongside key research institutes such as the Energy Research Accelerator and Energy Systems Catapult, there is a strong base from which to grow the region’s future economy. 

The launch also featured a ‘hustings’ for the West Midlands Metro Mayor candidates, recognising that political leadership is required for a climate innovation cluster to emerge. With an election on the horizon, all four candidates expressed the intention to keep engaging with the work of Energy Capital and its partners. 

The roots of this work can be found in the Climate-KIC Transition Cities project. Birmingham City Council acts as Lead Partner, and in comparing their work on energy with Frankfurt, they realised that energy systems work in their region was having less impact as they lacked a co-ordinating body, a role fulfilled by Frankfurt’s ‘Energiereferat’ (municipal energy agency). 

Climate-KIC UK & Ireland continues to support this valuable work, most recently by acting as the secretariat to Energy Capital. This is a unique opportunity to stimulate the growth of an energy-focused climate innovation cluster in the West Midlands region, and 2017 will see many of Climate-KIC’s structured programmes being used to develop this further.

There are plans to offer similar assistance to London in developing a climate innovation cluster focused on the circular economy. 

Climate-KIC UK & Ireland launches its ‘Insights’ series on climate innovation clusters in March. Email ukandireland@climate-kic.org to receive a link on the day.