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A midlands transformation: Birmingham as a thriving business region 11 April 2017

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Over the past couple of years Birmingham has developed significantly, becoming a hub for start-up companies, big businesses and culture enthusiasts.

Throughout the majority of the 20th and 21st centuries Birmingham was, and is to this day, known as ‘The Second City’. Population size, economic importance and cultural contribution to the British Empire were traditionally all factors that determined this title but nevertheless, were second to London.

For decade, it seemed like no city could rival the capital, with the vast majority of companies both national and international taking up residence and setting up their businesses in London. With huge sums of financial investment being injected into the capital, in order to thrive, many businesses had no choice but to set up in the south among other world-renowned companies, organisations and of course wealthy customers.

Meanwhile, in the midlands, Birmingham was amidst an industrial and cultural revolution, at the forefront of global advances in science, technology and economic development. Over many centuries, Birmingham has crafted a city that is both unique and powerful. While London has its strengths, so does this midlands city and in actuality, Birmingham isn’t second to anything.

Here we take a look at why Birmingham is now considered a prosperous business region.

A thriving tech scene

In the recent 2017 Tech Nation report, the UK was highlighted as the digital capital of Europe and a clear leader when it comes to tech investment, digital skills and collaboration within ecosystems.

When we look at Birmingham specifically, the report underlined the city’s buzzing tech scene. Currently, there are 36,802 people employed in digital tech economy jobs in Birmingham, with an average advertised salary of £43,718. This compares with the average for non-digital tech jobs at £34,355.

From 2013-15, the city’s tech sector contributed £1.4 billion to the UK’s economy, with the birth of 557 start-ups in the city during this time. For businesses looking for investment in the region, investors include Turn Partners, Oxygen Investors and Ascension Venture. As well as this, Finance Birmingham provides loan and equity funding ranging from £250,000 to two million.

Of the professionals currently working in the sector, one quarter said that they think the talent supply is ‘good’, and a huge 80 per cent of respondents said they had a good quality of life. Tech professionals were also impressed with transport infrastructure (52 per cent) while 62 per cent had ‘good’ digital growth optimism.

High-quality of living
While Birmingham is making a name for itself when it comes to business, it is also proving to be a cultural hub, providing high-quality living for its residents. In the global Mercer Quality of Living Report 2017, the city was ranked as having the highest quality of life of any English city outside of the capital. Of the 231 destinations across the world surveyed in the report, the midlands city came joint 53rd with Glasgow, ahead of cities like Hong Kong, Miami and Dubai.

The report also looked at city infrastructure and ranked Birmingham along with Edinburgh and Glasgow as the top UK cities outside of London for quality infrastructure. Here Mercer analysed important factors, such as transportation, electricity and water supply.

Neil Rami, chief executive of Marketing Birmingham, commented: “This is an encouraging report, reflecting the increasingly positive sentiment towards Birmingham as a place to live, visit and invest in.

“Lower living costs are tempting more and more people to live in Birmingham, and more businesses – from ambitious start-ups to global names like HSBC and PwC – to relocate or grow here.”


With a good quality of living and a buzzing tech scene, many professionals are flocking to Birmingham to start up. Business counts data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed that the city overtook London to become the country’s leading city for business growth rates in 2016. On top of this, according to the figures from Start Up Britain, Birmingham is also the UK’s most entrepreneurial region and a start-up ‘hotspot’.

In addition to this, the latest Cities Outlook report from Centre for Cities showed a marked increase in private sector job creation in Birmingham since 2010. Over this period, 15,400 jobs were created, ranking Birmingham in third place in the UK.

With numerous redevelopments in the city, companies are able to be at the centre of business, culture and expansion. Commercial spaces like Bruntwood’s Mclaren building and its Cornerblock development will allow both start-ups and businesses to thrive. Find out more today.

St Philip's Square in Birmingham
St Philips Square in Birmingham

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