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Enterprise in Birmingham

University of Birmingham

This blog post has been produced for the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce to provide academic insight on the findings of the Birmingham Economic Review.

The Birmingham Economic Review 2017 is produced by the University of Birmingham’s City-REDI and the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce, with contributions from the West Midlands Growth Company. It is an in-depth exploration of the economy of England’s second city and is a high quality resource for organisations seeking to understand Birmingham to inform research, policy or investment decisions.

This post is featured in Chapter 8: Enterprise of the Birmingham Economic Review which can be found here. You can read the full report and report summary here.

Enterprise is the key to economic growth: a loud refrain heard from all quarters, promoting the survival and growth of enterprise in the region continues to be a key tool to delivering the policy objectives of promoting economic growth and rebalancing the economy. 

It is also fundamental to achieving wider social objectives of tackling deprivation, revitalising communities, building and promoting cohesion.

It is clear that self-employment plays a vital economic role in the regional economies, the evidence highlights that the Birmingham is an entrepreneurial city and overall there is a great aspiration to set up a business in Birmingham (10.3%) compared to UK as a whole (7.8%).

Furthermore, the intention in Birmingham to start a business is higher among all ethnic minorities (19.5%) compared to White British (4.8%). 

While the TEA rate is higher for ethnic minorities (9%) compared to White British (4.8%), the established business owner rate is lower for ethnic minorities (2.3%) compared to White British (3.8%).

However, it should be noted that there is an extensive gap between aspirations and their conversion into reality.

The lack of this translation of aspirations into reality is an area that we need to develop further because this could help to address the Skills, productivity, and leadership gaps within the region.

Business support could play a significant part in this process since the regional economy relies on SME’s. If aspirations and potential is to be materialised we need to advance three key areas:

  • Leadership and Management - Managerial and leadership competences are still an obstacle to enterprise growth and development
  • Developing  Eco- systems  which foster scale up  and Enterprise development 
  • Embedding  Diversity in Enterprise and Economic Development  and business support Strategies

In summary, developing a strong entrepreneurial culture and providing relevant support will continue to ensure the regions SME’s reach their potential to carve out new markets, innovate and boost their own and their local economy’s productivity and growth prospects.

Professor Kiran Trehan
University of Birmingham