Business leaders back their bid to bring flagship government agency to Birmingham

Business, academic and political leaders from across the region have teamed up to try to bring the government’s new Advanced Research and Invention Agency (ARIA) to Birmingham.

ARIA was announced by the government last year as an independent agency to fund high-risk, high-reward scientific research.

It will be led by leading, world-renowned scientists who will have the freedom to quickly identify and fund transformational science and technology. The new agency will help cement the UK’s position as a global science superpower, while shaping the country’s efforts to build back better through innovation.

Now regional leaders, including West Midlands Mayor Andy Street, and Manufacturing Technology Center chief executive Dr Clive Hickman, alongside university leaders, are calling for the agency to be headquartered in Birmingham.

The bid coalition has identified Old Curzon Street station, which has a long history of innovation and engineering excellence, as an ideal location.

The offer was officially launched at Old Curzon Street Station by Street, Dr Hickman, Managing Director of the Manufacturing Technology Centre, Professor Julian Beer, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Research, Innovation and Enterprise at Birmingham City University (BCU), and Cllr Brigid Jones, Deputy Leader of Birmingham City Council.

Old Curzon Street station, now the hub of HS2 in the city, was once home to the historic Lunar Society of Birmingham, which helped shape Britain’s scientific, political and social agenda throughout throughout the eighteenth century.

Street said: “The West Midlands provides an ideal base for ARIA, with our central UK location, cutting-edge knowledge and talent base of academics and industry expertise. With a fast-growing young and diverse community, our region has the next generation of innovators and inventors who can help meet the government’s ambition to be a science superpower. In post-pandemic Britain, ARIA’s establishment in the West Midlands will help upskill by creating high-quality jobs and new skills for residents, as well as addressing the regional investment imbalance public and private.

Beer said: “As home to 20 leading universities, the West Midlands is an ideal springboard for ARIA to access some of the brightest minds and innovators the UK has to offer, including the new Birmingham City University’s £70m STEAMhouse initiative providing access to like-minded employees from the business, academic, creative and digital communities. It is essential that the opportunity to choose a location like the West Midlands also gives ARIA the international platform and connections it needs to succeed, which Birmingham provides.

Hickman added: “With its proud manufacturing heritage and strong track record of attracting inward investment, the West Midlands offers the perfect ecosystem for the next chapter in the UK’s innovation story. The region is already leading the innovation race with its Catapult Centers in energy systems and high value manufacturing, as well as being home to several industrial powerhouses and a number of internationally renowned universities, providing the next generation of facilities and spirits for the benefit of ARIA in its objective. to bring about transformative technological change.