Operational Programme 'West Midlands'

Programme under the Competitiveness and Employment Objective, co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF)

United Kingdom

Additional tools


On 17 December 2007, the European Commission approved a Regional Operational Programme for the West Midlands English region for 2007-13. The Operational Programme falls within the framework laid out for the Regional Competitiveness and Employment Objective and has a total budget of about €800 million. Community assistance through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) amounts to about €400 million, which represents approximately 3.8% of the total EU investment earmarked for the United Kingdom under the Cohesion Policy 2007-13.

1. Purpose and aim of the programme

The purpose of the Operational Programme is to achieve an increase in the economic productivity of the West Midlands region, to reduce unemployment and inequalities and to ensure sustainable regional economic growth. The Programme will focus investment on projects which address market failure while developing ways to stimulate high-value economic growth and sustainable jobs.

The West Midlands Operational Programme will integrate two central cross-cutting themes – namely environmental sustainability and equal opportunities. It recognises that investments in human, social and environmental capital, as well as technological innovation, are the prerequisites for long-term competitiveness and economic prosperity. The environmental sustainability objectives are inspired partly by the European Council's March 2007 energy policy targets and are therefore reflected in the programme's commitment to a low carbon philosophy and practice.

2. Expected impact of the investment

The programme aims to help 22 441 businesses improve their performance. It also aims to create 10 519 jobs and 2495 new businesses, while supporting efforts to reduce regional carbon emissions. In addition, 3288 regional businesses will enter into new collaborations with the UK’s knowledge-base as part of the programme’s drive to upgrade the local economy. Meeting these goals will help the West Midlands to compete more effectively in an increasingly globalised economy.

3. Priorities

The Operational Programme is structured around the following priorities:

Priority axis 1: Promoting innovation and research & development [approximately 36.3% of total funding]

This priority aims to ensure that the region generates increased levels of research and development (R&D) activity and knowledge transfer between research institutions and business in order to generate more innovative enterprises. Investment will focus on five sectors: health and medical technologies; energy; advanced metals and nanotechnology; digital media; and transport technologies.

Corresponding activities will stimulate business demand for innovation by tailoring support mechanisms and by providing high-quality collaborative research between local companies and academic institutions. Efforts will be made to improve graduate retention in the region by supporting placement schemes in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and by helping graduates who want to set up their own businesses.

Priority axis 2: Stimulating enterprise development [approximately 33.7% of total funding]

Axis two seeks to increase enterprise levels in the West Midlands as a way of improving regional economic performance. Activities will focus on delivering tailored support to ten priority business clusters. Help will be available in the form of consultancy expertise and access to finance. Specific actions will also be developed to promote efficient use of resources through the use of waste management and eco-innovation practices.

Priority axis 3: Achieving sustainable urban development [approximately 25.5% of total funding]

The goal here is to create conditions for employment growth and improved economic performance in certain disadvantaged areas. Support will be concentrated in North Staffordshire (Stoke-on-Trent) and the West Midlands conurbation (Birmingham, the Black Country and Coventry).

Activities will include: investment in reclamation and re-use of previously developed land and premises; provision of access routes to new employment sites; and developing initiatives for the social enterprise and voluntary sectors. Grant schemes and pilot projects will also promote the use of new environmental technologies.

Priority axis 4: Developing inter-regional activity [approximately 1.5% of total funding]

This priority will support the first three priorities by introducing, where appropriate, an inter-regional element to their work. Work here will include developing and fostering inter-regional networks with European regions that have similar innovation, enterprise and urban development schemes. Co-operation with France, Poland and Sweden is already planned. Funding will also be provided for a research placement scheme involving local SMEs.

Priority axis 5: Technical assistance [approximately 3% of total funding]

Funding will be provided for technical assistance to support programme implementation.

Financial and Technical information

Operational Programme 'West Midlands'

Intervention Type

Operational Programme

CCI no


Number of decision


Final approval date


Breakdown of finances by priority axis

Priority Axis EU Investment National Public Contribution Total Public Contribution
Promoting Innovation and Research and Development 145 000 000 145 000 000 290 000 000
Stimulating enterprise development 135 000 000 135 000 000 270 000 000
Achieving sustainable urban development 102 000 000 102 000 000 204 000 000
Developing inter-regional activity 6 000 000 6 000 000 12 000 000
Technical assistance 11 899 930 11 899 930 23 799 860
Total 399 899 930 399 899 930 799 799 860