Proposals tabled for a Redditch Digital Manufacturing and Innovation Centre

Redditch

North Worcestershire Economic Development and Regeneration NWedR, on behalf of Redditch Borough Council is considering the development of a  Digital Manufacturing and Innovation Centre (DMIC) in Redditch.

The DMIC will be an £8 million, c. 2,500 sq m development, and forms a key part of Redditch’s Town Investment Plan. The aim is to boost the supply of flexible workspace in the town centre and create a new focal point for innovation-led growth within the local advanced manufacturing sector. The project will also support digital skills and entrepreneurship development.

From playing a major role in manufacturing and the development of new technologies around the world, such as helping to make the world’s first jet engine, to hosting the world’s first Wi-Fi 6 industrial scale trial (Mettis Aerospace), Redditch is a place of business innovation and pioneering spirit.

However, Redditch has an enterprise deficit, according to its Town Investment Plan, published in January last year. Business births in the Borough are relatively low compared to the national average, and much lower than the region.

One issue identified in Redditch is a lack of new space for businesses (particularly office space) which hinders organic growth and may deter start-ups or hinder growth. Analysis by GJS Dillon found that availability of office space is falling, creating a struggle for owner occupiers who face competition from the investment market to buy properties which increases sales prices, meaning Redditch needs to address the availability of good quality space.

Redditch is home to a cluster of pioneering innovative businesses for the West Midlands and nationally including:

• Mettis Aerospace, based in Redditch, is conducting the world’s first Wi-Fi 6 trial which works in tandem with 5G to increase network reliability.

• Solid State plc, the Redditch-based manufacturer of computing products, and supplier of electronic and opto-electronic components, has secured funding from Innovate UK to develop a modular battery pack with a tailored battery management system which will be combined with a bespoke electric motor, providing a scalable, modular, zero emission powertrain28.

• Heller Machine Tools – Redditch site has evolved into a ‘Centre of Excellence for Serial Assembly’ for Heller worldwide. Digital manufacturing is a key component and its Industry 4.0 offering – Heller4Industry – is designed to provide maximum machine availability whilst ensuring full process control29.

• FAUN Zoeller – supply, manufacture and service refuse collection vehicles, lifting devices and road sweepers, are at the forefront of innovation in modern technology in this sector and are focussing on the development of hydrogen fuel cell technology as part of a focus on decarbonisation.

The town’s aim is to become a digital town in the areas of education, business and infrastructure. Redditch town’s second largest employment sector and the Borough’s largest is manufacturing, accounting for 22 per cent of employment in the Borough.

The provision of specialist digital technologies will support growth in this dominant sector. This vision is shared by Andy Street, mayor of the West Midlands.