The Vox Conference Centre

Headline Sponsor

Join private and public sector leaders to shape a region-wide response to the economic challenges and opportunities facing the Midlands

The Midlands

Last year’s inaugural event attracted over 500 attendees from PLCs to large entrepreneurial SMEs, Third Sector, Universities, and the public sector. The region is key to the prosperity of UK PLC and boasts some of the best names when it comes to innovation and best practice.

As with last year tickets will be in ‘hot’ demand in a year where 50% of the global population will be participating in elections including the USA and UK. In the Midlands, there will be extra scrutiny as we look to examine what the new West Midlands and East Midlands Metro Mayors have to offer. And of course, all of this in the context of an uncertain geo-political world where turbulence is the norm.

So if you want to hear from business leaders, inspirational entrepreneurs, senior policy makers and politicians – then see you on the 10th June at the Vox.



With a fantastic lunch and refreshments included, commencing at 8:30am for registration and concluding at 5:00pm, this one day summit will be your opportunity to have your say on the future of this vibrant region and what that future should look like.

This second, pan-regional Summit will bring together over 500 key stakeholders from across academia, business and government to discuss the strategic priorities that will shape the region’s economic outlook – from transport to digital to international trade.



Explore the exceptional opportunities for growth in the UK’s largest regional economy outside London.


Discover how government will support the region’s business sector through challenging times.


Take advantage of unrivalled networking opportunities with business and political leaders.


The theme of this year’s Summit is Driving Investment, Powering Growth. Collaboration is the key to connecting opportunity and investment to unlock growth and prosperity. By bringing together public and private sector innovators and experts in their fields, the Midlands Economic Summit is a crucible for thought leadership and motivating the action in partnership that will lead to a strong, inclusive and growing regional economy.

The Summit will explore six major themes:

  • Midlands devolution: Exploring how new devolution deals can strengthen public-private investment partnerships.
  • Midlands investment: Leveraging new ways to attract and secure investment to accelerate growth and prosperity.
  • Midlands innovation: Capitalising on our rich R&D heritage to drive investment to the region.
  • Midlands place & levelling up: Ensuring a thriving, vibrant and dynamic economy for our region’s 11m residents and 400,000 businesses. 
  • Midlands businesses environment: Creating favourable conditions to empower our businesses and unlock investment and growth potential.
  • Midlands digital: Harnessing the economic opportunity of the fast-growing technology and AI sector.

The Midlands Economic Summit will consider these and many other thought-provoking questions as we work together to tackle barriers and capitalise on opportunities to drive investment and power growth.

Headline Data 

  1. The Midlands Engine economy is worth over £252.6bn per year. 
  2. The Midlands Engine is an economy the size of Denmark. 
  3. The Midlands Engine region has a population of 11m people– and is within a 4-hour drive of 92% of the UK’s population.
  4. In 2022 there were over 400,000 businesses in the Midlands Engine region and 48,000 enterprise births. 
  5. There are 20 universities in the Midlands Engine area. 
  6. There are 21 high-tech science parks in the Midlands Engine area. 
  7. The Midlands Engine Investment Portfolio has a gross development value of over £33bn with the potential to create over 220,000 jobs. 
  8. The Midlands Engine area accounts for 22% of England’s exports – more than London and the South East.
  9. The Midlands Engine area exported nearly £60bn worth of goods in the financial year 2022-2023.
  10. The Midlands accounts for 15.6% of the UK’s private sector R&D, yet only 7% of government R&D spending.
  11. Since 2005, the Midlands has been underinvested by £102.1bn compared to the rest of the UK. 
  12. In 2021-2022 the Midlands accounted for nearly 22.4% of new jobs created from Foreign Direct Investment projects in England. 
  13. The Midlands has 6 ‘super-clusters’, at least 10 ‘established clusters’ and at least 14 ‘new economy clusters’. These include the largest medtech and aerospace clusters in the UK. 
  14. Out of 10 key national sectors, the Midlands Engine has a higher than average proportion in 7 sectors for GVA, 6 sectors for enterprises and 5 sectors for jobs.
  15. In 2020/21 Midlands regions received 29% of all Innovate UK funding nationally. 
  16. The Midlands accounted for the highest number of FDI projects for net zero which created 4,278 new jobs in 2022-2023. 
  17. The Midlands Engine faces a productivity gap of £86.3bn compared to the rest of the UK.
  18. The Midlands Engine has the potential to be £18bn per year more productive, which would grow the regional economy by 8%. 


“At the heart of the Midlands Engine Partnership is a shared belief in the power of collaboration – a genuine sense of togetherness born out of a commitment to harnessing our amassed power to achieve more for our region’s people and places. By bringing together public and private sector decision-makers, innovators and experts in their fields, the Midlands Economic Summit is an exceptional opportunity to motivate and enable the action in partnership that will lead to a strong, inclusive and growing regional economy. I hope you can join me there.” 


The Midlands is a fantastic region boasting of so many great enterprises, a hub of innovation and endeavour. With a list of assets too many to list, the region simply shouts excellence.

But to engender further growth we need to encourage more collaboration, enhance our innovation prowess and partnerships, and look at ways to tackle our challenges including weak productivity.

This summit is the only one of its kind that is truly regional – a PAN regional event bringing the best of East and West together.

The region operates in a global economy that is both turbulent and chaotic, but uncertainty creates opportunities.

The summit will hear from inspirational entrepreneurs, insights from business leaders, innovative thinking academics and senior policy makers on meeting the challenges and opportunities presented by an increasingly competitive global marketplace.

So, if you hear from, mix with and exchange views with the influencers of today’s economy – and be part of the conversation –  then see you on the 10th of June.




We are pleased to announce that the speakers for 2024 are as follows

Sir John Peace

Sir John Peace

Sir John Peace

Sir John Peace is Chairman of the Midlands Engine Partnership and Midlands Connect. Sir John is also the Lord-Lieutenant of Nottinghamshire and the Chancellor of Nottingham Trent University.

Sir John has had a long and distinguished business career covering the technology, financial services and retail sectors. He has been Chairman, Chief Executive and Founder of Experian plc, Chief Executive of GUS plc, Chairman of Standard Chartered plc, Chairman of Burberry plc, and is currently Chairman of Octo Telematics.

Ninder Johal

Ninder Johal

Ninder Johal

Ninder runs a music, event production and publishing company where he hosts 5 large corporate events a year for entrepreneurs namely in Birmingham, Wolverhampton , Leicester and London with Manchester and Mumbai in 2023. They are known as the Signature Awards, the Nachural Entrepreneurship Awards, Nachural Summer Business Awards and the Midlands Economic Summit.

He has been running a record label for over 25 years and is a member of the premier bhangra band – achanak – who still tour today. The production company has now ventured in creative services including film and video production. The record label remains as the only British Asian label to have charted globally. The track Munde To Bachke charted at no.5 in the UK charts, with a feature by Jay Z, the track charted at no.7 in the US, a No.2 in Germany and a further nine number 1 chart positions. Culminating in sales exceeding 11 million copies.

Nachural have recently set up a publishing arm with the launch of ‘The Business Influencer magazine’ and podcast with international distribution already in place which includes over 1000 stores in the USA, Canada and in the UK – is available at WHSmith.

Outside of his day job – Ninder is the Board member of The West Midlands 5G, Board Governor of the University of Wolverhampton, Elected member of the West Midlands CBI, NED at  Accord Housing and BCRS, Trustee of The Canal and River Trust, Trustee of Victoria Academy ( set of primary schools ), previously President of the Black Country Chamber of Commerce, Board member of the Black Country LEP, Board member of the West Midlands Combined Authority and Chair of Charity – Steps to Work. He is also a Board member of the West Midlands India Partnership, West Midlands Tourism Board and Chair of the Wolverhampton City Investment Board.

He was a runner up in the Sunday Times in 2017 for the Non Executive of the Year awards  for his work as President of the Black Country Chamber of Commerce and is now  a judge for the Sunday Times/Peel Hunt Non Executive Director of the Year..

He was appointed Deputy Lieutenant of the West Midlands in Feb 2019 in recognition of his work for the region and is a multi award winner.

Jackie Wild

Jackie Wild

Jackie Wild

Jackie Wild is a forward-thinking leader with strong attention to detail. She worked as a main Board Director of a £1.5bn food group, before founding leading design and construction group, TSL Ltd. in 2002.

Throughout her career, Jackie has developed excellent working relationships within the food industry. It became increasingly evident to her that our global food systems require radical change and, as a result of this, she founded SmartParc to change food production for good.

SmartParc presents a fresh opportunity for forward-thinking food businesses to grow in a more sustainable and collaborative way through easy access to shared services, including a bespoke green energy solution.

Nurturing talent within the food industry is a core part of Jackie's mission, with a dedicated Innovation Centre at the first Park – SmartParc SEGRO Derby. This will provide dedicated training opportunities and links to local universities, as well as connecting local schools with food production. The major brownfield regeneration at SmartParc in Derby will provide 5000 jobs in a new sector for the city.

Robert Franks

Robert Franks

Robert Franks

Robert Franks is Managing Director at WM5G and has overseen the programme’s movement from mobilisation to delivery, promoting the advantages of 5G and accelerating update across the region.

Throughout his career Robert has held a number of senior positions at leading international telecoms firms including O2, T-Mobile and Orange. While at O2, Robert was Director of Digital and Managing Director of Commerce. He doubled revenue into the hundreds of millions by launching and scaling new businesses in sectors such as Wi-Fi, Internet of Things, messaging, payments, data analytics, advertising and FinTech. He also led the company’s start-up accelerator.

WM5G’s initial focus has been the deployment of the enabling infrastructure required for 5G as well as undertaking nearly 30 real-world trials in sectors such as health, manufacturing and transport. The organisation is working closely with manufacturers, SMEs, universities and hospitals across the region, developing new digital applications that will help drive economic growth and make a real and positive difference to the people and businesses of the West Midlands.

WM5G aims to utilise its experience and expertise gained to date, working with citizens, businesses and organisations, to support post-pandemic economic recovery while driving the uptake and adoption of next-generation communications networks across the region and beyond.

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Jeegar Kakkad

Jeegar Kakkad

Jeegar Kakkad is the Director of Government Innovation at the Tony Blair Institute. He was previously Chief Economist and Director of Policy at ADS, the national trade association for the UK's aerospace, defence and security sectors. Prior to that he held roles at Jaguar Land Rover, MakeUK, the Social Market Foundation and the Brookings Institution.

Andrew 1 Colour-min

Andrew Cunningham

Andrew Cunningham

Andrew Cunningham graduated from the University of Nottingham with a First Class degree in Electrical and Electronic Engineering and after an initial spell working for a small R+D company, started and ran several high technology companies. One of these companies, AVT, developed the electronic financial trading systems still used by every bank in the world. He is also the inventor of several key patents relating to secure communications. When Reuters bought AVT in 2002 he ran the Financial Trading Division of Reuters for six years. In 2008 he retired from formal paid employment and learned to sail. From 2009 he has invested his personal money in sustainable energy research and development, with particular interest in renewable energy storage and zero emission fuels. In 2019 he founded GeoPura in collaboration with Siemens to bring to market and commercialise affordable hydrogen and zero emission fuel based technologies. He has led GeoPura as CEO ever since and since February 2023 has been pleased to welcome Siemens Energy, General Motors, Barclays Capital, SWEN, and the UK Infrastructure Bank as investors and key strategic partners of the company. Andrew is an Honorary Professor at the University of Nottingham.


June Matte

June Matte

June is a Managing Director PFM Financial Advisors LLC. PFM currently serves as the managed service provider for the UK Municipal Bonds Agency, assisting local authorities in accessing the capital markets. An expert on credit strategy, risk assessment, debt finance and cash-flow optimisation, June brings a wealth of experience of over 30 years in assisting local authorities to undertake complex strategic, revenue and capital planning including regeneration and maximising returns from capital assets in the US. June has managed numerous bond issues ranging in size from 10 million to 2+ billion on behalf of local authorities, regional governments and other public sector bodies.

Dr Lisa Smith-min

Dr Lisa Smith

Dr Lisa Smith

Dr Lisa Smith, CEO Midlands Mindforge: Lisa is an award-winning investor, advisor in sustainability for the Cambridge Institute for Sustainable Leadership, and a Harvard MBA graduate. Throughout her career, Lisa has been passionate about promoting sustainable business development, championing start-ups into growing and successful businesses while embedding inclusive and diverse leadership cultures across the organisations she has worked in. She has an established track record of success across these missions, having led teams at BTV, McKinsey and Unilever to enable effective business building and support inspiring entrepreneurs to fulfil the potential of their ideas.


Irene Graham OBE

Irene Graham OBE

Irene is the founding CEO and a board director of the ScaleUp Institute, a private sector, not-for-profit company focused on making the UK the best place in the world to scale up a business.
She is a former senior banker at Standard Chartered where she held both European and global managing director roles. She set up, ran and scaled several of the bank’s key client and product businesses across its corporate and institutional bank and led several global M&A activities. Working internationally across Europe, the Americas, Middle East and Asia, living in Singapore for a period of time.
During the height of the financial crisis was seconded to work across the banking industry where she led the Business Finance Taskforce and Better Business Finance which was responsible for, amongst other initiatives, the founding of the Business Growth Fund, SME Finance Monitor, and leading on developments in Open Banking, and the Small Business Act.
She is a Visiting Professor of Entrepreneurship at Strathclyde University and holds a variety of non executive director and advisory roles across the creative, business and finance communities.This has included participating in the Fintech Strategy review; the Life Sciences Scaleup Taskforce; Creative Industry Councils and sitting on Canada's National Research Industrial Advisory Council.

Mike Owens-min

Mike Owens

Mike Owens

Mike has worked in the packaging manufacturing industry for over 30 years and has held roles at Senior European Leadership Team level as well as in Plant Management, Operations and Finance. He has developed effective teams delivering results within the corporate, private equity owned and family run business sectors. He is passionate about people development, innovative technologies, continuous process improvement and the synergies between sustainability and paper-based packaging. Mike holds an MA (Hons) Degree in Economics from Edinburgh University. He is Vice-President and Board member of the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce.


Prof. Nigel Driffield

Prof. Nigel Driffield

Nigel Driffield is Deputy Pro Vice Chancellor for regional engagement at Warwick University and also Professor of International Business at Warwick Business School, having held a similar post at Aston Business School for 10 years which included a spell as the dean of the business school. He has a PhD from Reading University, and has published some 80 academic papers across a range of disciplines including international business, regional science, finance, and economics.
His main areas of interest are:
The links between firm internationalisation and firm performance
The impact of inward investment on host locations
International technology transfer
Policy responses to globalisation
He is the Organisational Capital Theme Lead for the (£35m) ESRC Productivity Institute. He recently held a £1m investment from ESRC looking at productivity in the West Midlands, “From Productivity to Prosperity”. This focussed on how productivity growth through investment, skills and supply chain collaboration can be translated into inclusive growth. He was part of a tea has recently competed a £650K ESRC grant looking at policies to deliver productivity and growth locally.
He has held a Prestigious Leverhulme Fellowship, investigating the impact of internationally mobile capital on both home and source countries, particularly in terms of competitiveness and labour markets.
More generally, he has been an advisor to the (then) BEIS Select Committee, and the Department of International Trade, with a focus on inward investment. He has carried out research and consultancy projects for UNCTAD, World Bank, European Commission, OECD, and in the UK several Government Departments and local Regional Development bodies.

Locally, he has worked with the Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP since its inception, serving on the economics strategy board, chairing the academic advisory group, and on the executive steering committees for both the Heseltine Report and the Strategic Economic Plan. More recently he was the academic lead and deputy chair of the West Midlands Productivity and Skills commission. He has written extensively on the prospects for inward investment post Brexit.
He was on the Business and Management Sub-panel for the recent Research Excellence Framework (REF 2014 and REF2021) . He recently completed a term on ESRC grants panel. He spent 16 years on the editorial review board of the Journal of International Business Studies, the “World Elite” journal in the area of international business, as well as the Journal of World Business the Global Strategy Journal and Management International Review and the Journal of International Business Policy.

Indicators of esteem.
Elected to the Academy of Social Sciences in 2011,
Fellow of the Royal Society for the Arts, 2018
Member of the REF2014 sub-panel (19) for management and business, covering the area of international business. Re-appointed for 2020
ESRC Grants Applications Panel 2016- 2018
Editorial Review board of Journal of international Business Studies.
Executive Committee UK Academy of International Business.

Paul Faulkner picture-min

Paul Faulkner

Paul Faulkner

Paul is the Co-founder of Element45, an advisory business that acts as a catalyst for positive change and performance improvement within organisations through the application of extensive and pragmatic strategic leadership experience.

Previously Paul has held roles including CEO of Aston Villa, Nottingham Forest and the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce, as well as Chief of Staff for the Richardson investment business and interim CEO of the Kids' Village charity.   

He is also currently Chairman of Sport Birmingham, and has previously held trustee roles with Town Hall Symphony Hall in Birmingham, Cure Leukaemia and Birmingham Children's Hospital charity.


Dr Nik Kotecha

Dr Nik Kotecha

Dr Nik Kotecha is an internationally renowned businessman, scientist, influencer and serial entrepreneur. He founded and led the inspirational growth of leading Midlands-based developer and manufacturer of generic medicines, Morningside Pharmaceuticals Ltd, and is Founder and Chairman of RandalSun Capital.

Arriving in the UK (1972) with his family as a refugee, Dr Kotecha’s family settled in Leicester. After academia, his career moved into drug discovery, focused on type II diabetes and infection. Next steps drew on his love of science, knowledge of pharmaceuticals and his passion for affordable, accessible and high-quality healthcare for all. Starting from a home garage in 1991 as a 100% export business, when he divested his interests (2022), Morningside Pharmaceuticals had exported to 120+ countries, with a global product range of over 300 generic and branded EU and UK licensed medicines.

Growth was driven by an unrelenting approach to innovation, new markets, new jurisdiction product registrations and international commercial partnerships within a socially focussed business model, where key contracts included those supplying global aid agencies.
Dr Kotecha holds many national and regional roles on boards as diverse as The Prince’s Trust Council, Midlands Mindforge and the Centre for Social Justice. Closer to home, he’s been a long serving board member for the Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership (LLEP) until it closed in March 2024; he is the former Chair of the Loughborough Town Deal Board and he has held the position of Chair for the successful Leicestershire Innovation Festival since its inception. He has represented the region in diverse roles including Deputy Lieutenant for Leicestershire, and as both Export Champion for over 10 years, and Trade Policy Advisor for HM Government Department for Business and Trade.

Dr Kotecha was awarded the Queen’s Award for Enterprise, for International Trade in 2012. He accompanied the then Prime Minister Teresa May on a trade mission to India in 2016 and in 2018 he received a Board of Trade Award, issued by the then Department of International Trade.

He was awarded an honorary Doctor of Science by the University of Leicester in July 2023, formally recognising his contribution to science and the scientific community. In 2022 he was recognised by De Montfort University, where he is Pro Chancellor, by being awarded the role of Professor of Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Philanthropy. In 2022, he also received the Distinguished Alumni Award from Imperial College, London.

His current global business portfolio is wide ranging and includes investments from start-ups to patient capital, with retained interests in health, life sciences and high innovation, IP rich businesses.

In 2017 he and his wife Moni established the Randal Foundation CIO, giving it powerful worldwide reach ( The Foundation works with aligned partners and organisations to deliver its central ambition: to save 1 million lives, globally.


Steve Griffiths

Steve Griffiths

Steve Griffiths - Managing Director, East Midlands Airport.

Steve was appointed Managing Director of East Midlands Airport in October 2022. Prior to this, he was Managing Director at London Stansted Airport having joined MAG as the airport’s Chief Operating Officer in 2018.

He has previously worked for Virgin Atlantic as Chief Operating Officer and was Chief Operating Officer at London Underground, where he was accountable for the safe, secure and efficient delivery of the London tube network operations and customer service.

Steve is also a Non-Executive Director of a leading low-cost airline in Turkey.

Rocket_MTC 04_21 198-min

Prof. Chris White

Prof. Chris White

Chris is the Director of the Industrial Policy Research Centre (IPRC) at Loughborough University, formed in collaboration with the Manufacturing Technology Centre, part of the High Value Manufacturing Catapult, and was the Member of Parliament for Warwick and Leamington, 2010-2017.
As an MP, he was a member of both the International Development and Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy Select Committees and chaired the All Party Parliamentary Groups on Manufacturing and Social Enterprise. Prior to joining the MTC, Chris was the Director of the Institute for Industrial Strategy at King’s College, London.

Author of the Social Value Act.  This legislation is now responsible for influencing approx. £100bn of public spending, a figure which is set to grow
Led the debate on the Living Wage, Hansard 6 November 2014
Called for the creation of an Industrial Strategy, Hansard 26 May 2016
Amongst other roles, Chris is the Vice Chair of the Board of Governors of the Warwickshire College Group, Senior Visiting Fellow in the Department of Engineering, City, University of London, a member of the Economic Policy Committee, Make UK, and a member of the Manufacturing Policy Panel at the IET.

Maria formal 1-min

Maria Machancoses

Maria Machancoses

Maria Machancoses is the Chief Executive of Midlands Connect - the sub-national Transport
Body (STB) for the Midlands. Representing a region of more than 10 million people,
Midlands Connect brings together 22 local transport authorities, civic and business leaders to
strategically shape the region’s transport network.
Maria has been instrumental in the success and development of Midlands Connect, having
helped establish it in 2014. Under her leadership, Midlands Connect has published the first
landmark 25-year transport strategy for the region and is now progressing with multi-million
infrastructure programmes including the £1.5bn flagship project - Midlands Rail Hub.
As part of her role, she also leads the policy and research activities on crucial agendas such
as Alternative Fuels, Freight and Rural Mobility. This work has led to the delivery of
“Supercharging the Midlands” - the first roadmap to the acceleration of EV and Hydrogen
infrastructure across the Midlands.
Maria was rewarded “Outstanding Contribution to Transport” by the Transport Times in
2019. With over than 25-years of experience, she has a track-record of brokering innovative
multi-disciplinary partnerships to expand co-ordination and joint-working cross regions and
has vast experience in participating in international platforms including EMTA (European
Metropolitan Transport Association) and UITP (International Association of Public Transport).
Maria holds a Degree in Law from the University of Valencia (Spain), as well as a Masters
Degree in International Transport (University of Cardiff, Wales).

berger portrait2 23-min

Ambassador Miguel Berger

Ambassador Miguel Berger

Miguel Berger has been the Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to the United Kingdom since May 2022. One of his major positions since starting work at the Foreign Ministry in 1990 was as Head of the German Representative Office in the Palestinian Territories. From 2010 to 2012 he was Deputy Head of the Permanent Mission of Germany to the United Nations in New York and a member of the United Nations Security Council in 2011 and 2012. At the Federal Foreign Office, he was Head of the Parliament and Cabinet Division, Commissioner for Global Issues, Energy and Climate Diplomacy, and Regional Director for the Near and Middle East and the Maghreb. Before becoming State Secretary in May 2020, he held the position of Director-General for Economic Affairs and Sustainable Development.

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Maxine Laceby

Maxine Laceby

When Maxine Laceby started Absolute Collagen from her kitchen table aged 50, with no business experience, she had no idea it would become the multi-million-pound wellness brand it is today. Absolute Collagen was named 4th in The Sunday Times Hundred and Maxine has been awarded a Natwest Everywomen award amongst others. Integrity and giving back in all areas are inherent to Maxine personally and professionally, and why she became a patron of the Prince's Trust in 2021. From her humble beginnings living on a council estate with a single mother to her ADHD, which she sees as her superpower

Sarah Windrum Best-min

Sarah Windrum

Sarah Windrum

Sarah Windrum is a technology business founder and investor leading the development of MIRA Tech Park’s future mobility cluster at the heart of the Midlands. MIRA Tech Park is an 850-acre site on the Leicestershire and Warwickshire border home to 40 global tenants specialising in mobility research & development including battery electric and hydrogen technologies. Recent winners of The King’s Award for Sustainable Development, the Tech Park is home to a world-class blend of facilities and expertise at HORIBA MIRA from ASSURED CAV to the Cleantech Test Hub to enable the accelerated delivery of new technologies to market and support decarbonisation of transport at scale making all our journeys safer, cleaner, and smarter. Sarah was formerly Chair of Coventry & Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership and still serves on the Midlands Engine Digital Board, the West Midlands Economic Growth and Innovation Boards, and is a Director for the Coventry & Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce. She is also a Regional Fellow at University of Warwick and a recent MSc graduate from Coventry University in Data Science.


Jon Mcloone

Jon Mcloone

Jon McLoone is central to driving the company's technical business strategy and leading the consulting solutions team. With over 25 years of experience working with Wolfram Technologies, Jon has helped in directing software development, system design, technical marketing, corporate policy, business strategies and much more. Jon gives regular keynote appearances and media interviews on topics such as the Future of AI, Enterprise Computation Strategies and Education Reform, across multiple fields including healthcare, fintech and data science. He holds a degree in mathematics from the University of Durham.

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Prof. Neal Juster

Prof. Neal Juster

Neal Juster is Vice-Chancellor of the University of Lincoln. He is a graduate of the University of Leeds where he obtained a BSc in Mechanical Engineering and a PhD in Computer Aided Design
Neal has extensive experience in University Management and the development and implementation of strategy: He was Senior Vice-Principal and Deputy Vice Chancellor at the University of Glasgow having been initially appointed as Vice-Principal (Strategy & Resources). Previously he was Pro Vice-Principal, Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and Head of Department in the Department of Design, Manufacture and Engineering Management at the University of Strathclyde and Senior Lecturer in
the Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Leeds. His research interests were in the broad area of computer aided design including rapid prototyping and use of virtual reality in design and manufacturing processes.
Neal a Fellow of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) and past Chair of the IMechE Academic Standards Committee, the committee responsible for accrediting relevant undergraduate degree programmes. He is currently a member of the QAA Advisory Committee on Degree Awarding Powers.
Since April 2023 he has been Chair of the Greater Lincolnshire Local Enterprise Partnership which aims to drive economic growth and be the voice of the business community in the county.
Neal is a trustee of the Lincoln City Foundation and Active Lincolnshire and Chairs the Members of the University of Lincoln Academy trust (a five-school trust in South Lincolnshire). He is a Director of Lincoln Science and Innovation Park, UL Learning Resources Ltd, Riseholme Park Farms Ltd, UoL Services Ltd and Humber Freeport Company Limited.


Charlotte Keenan

Charlotte Keenan

Charlotte Keenan leads the Goldman Sachs Office of Corporate Engagement's international responsibilities, including 10,000 Small Businesses in the UK and France, the firm's impact-driven work in India, and serves as global head of 10,000 Women.

Charlotte currently serves as chair of the Expert Advisory Council for the UK government's Help to Grow: Management program for small businesses.

Before joining Goldman Sachs, Charlotte spent time in Investment Banking (JPMorgan Cazenove and Jefferies) and was Chief Executive of Tony Blair's Foundation. She holds degrees from both Oxford and Columbia Universities, as well as being a Frank Knox Fellow at Harvard.

As part of the 10, 000 Small Businesses programme, Charlotte attended a City Summit in Birmingham which brought together business leaders, policymakers, and academics to discuss the immense growth in the Midlands region, how it was achieved and what can be done to accelerate it.


Yiannis Maos

Yiannis Maos

Yiannis is the Founder & CEO of TechWM, the economic development agency and tech advocacy group for the West Midlands. The organisation is designed to inspire people from all walks of life, help businesses scale up, and create an environment where people can collaborate and celebrate success. He is also the Founder of Birmingham Tech Week, the UK’s largest regional tech festival with 7,500 attendees, delegations from 39 countries and 69 million global impressions. Yiannis has over 20 year’s experience in technology, where he’s helped a number of innovative organisations successfully scale. In 2023 he was awarded an MBE on the New Year Honours List for services to the technology sector. His career started at B2B SaaS company Rant & Rave, who he helped grow from a challenger brand to a market leader that eventually sold for £50m. Following this, he was chosen as the UK Chair for the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA) which is the largest community of CX professionals in the world. In 2021 he helped San Francisco based Copper CRM, one the fastest-growing companies in the US, with their strategy. Yiannis is also a member of techUK’s Nation & Region’s Council and is part of the UK Tech Cluster Group team. He recently represented the West Midlands on the Levelling Up White Paper review where he championed the importance of tech and digital - specially focussing on startups, digital skills and diversity & inclusion.

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Mona Bhatia

Mona Bhatia

Highly experienced and qualified education specialist, teacher, business owner and project manager. Operations Director of Geospatial Ventures Limited responsible for day-to-day operations and finances as well as organisation of events and training programmes and operational support of the “geo-light” GNSS-RTK product development project. Project Manager for SAL-hub RIN training program funded by UKSA. Day to day operational management of ESA NAVISP AIPLAN project funded by ESA (European Space Agency). Overall responsibility of the SPRITE project investigating the initial feasibility of a creation of a cubesat constellation to support a GNSS RTK correction service for Low Earth Orbit. Overall responsibility for GVL involvement in the Perfect Sense AQ project to support GNSS capability for a novel graphene based air quality sensing solution.

Richard Parker (1) (1)

Richard Parker

Richard Parker

Richard is the recently elected Labour and Co-operative Mayor of the West Midlands and
Chair of the West Midlands Combined Authority.

Richard previously provided strategy, policy and governance advice to the public and private
sector. As a Partner at PwC he helped broker the deal, working with Council Leaders, that
led to the creation of the West Midlands Combined Authority in 2016. He remains
passionate about devolution and is currently working on policy interventions that will
improve opportunity, fairness, diversity and inclusion across the West Midlands.

Claire-Ward (1)

Claire Ward

Claire Ward

Claire Ward was elected Mayor of the East Midlands in May 2024, becoming the first person to hold
this position. Prior to that, Claire served as the MP for Watford from 1997 to 2010. During her
parliamentary career, she held roles as a Government Whip from 2005 to 2009 and as a Justice
Minister from 2009 to 2010. Claire has been involved with the Newark and Sherwood NHS
Foundation Trust for a number of years; She was appointed as Chair in April 2021 and has served as a
Non-Executive Director since May 2013.

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Carmen Watson

Carmen Watson

Carmen Watson has established herself as one of the UK’s most successful recruitment leaders. During her time with Pertemps she has navigated through challenging business climates, implemented a strategy which has helped drive growth and position Pertemps as a market leader in its field; servicing a broad cross section of industry verticals and public sector bodies. Through promoting and delivering best practice in the field of attraction, recruitment and retention of a diverse range of talent, Carmen has ensured Diversity and Inclusion is at the fore. In 2015 she was named by the Staffing Industry Analysts as one of the most powerful female leaders in recruitment; an accolade bestowed upon her in the successive 5 years which followed. In 2018 she was voted Overall Midlands Director of the Year (IOD) and received a Lifetime Achievers Award from the Recruitment & Employment Confederation in the same year. Carmen sits on the Business in Community Race Equality Leadership board, is a Fellow of the Institute of Recruitment and Employment Confederation and currently leads the Women in Business Group of the Lord Mayor of Birmingham’s Charity Patrons.

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Katie Normington

Katie Normington

Professor Katie Normington joined DMU in 2021. She launched the new strategy of ‘The Empowering University’ and implemented Education 2030, a programme that delivers the education of the future now through block-mode, flexible, stackable modules which focus on employability, sustainability and equality. Under Katie’s tenure DMU became the first university to achieve a silver Race Equality Charter and the renewal as a UN Academic Impact Hub for SGD 16, Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions. Katie is a Professor of Drama. Her research focuses on theatre history – in particular, medieval English drama and contemporary theatre practice. She has published six books in these areas and continues to write articles within the field.

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Daniel Campion

Daniel Campion

Daniel is an experienced telecommunications executive with broad international experience, particularly in infrastructure investment. He is Chief Executive Officer of Sitenna, an Infrastructure Asset Management SaaS platform which he cofounded in 2020. Sitenna’s objective is to dramatically reduce the cost and time of deploying the infrastructure critical to the technologies that will underpin the modern world, such as telecom towers, edge data centers, EV charging and green energy.

Sitenna currently operates in the United States and Europe, supporting tower providers, mobile operators, government agencies, utilities, and energy majors. The firm unlocks significant value in network deployment and portfolio optimization. The company has secured investment from silicon valley majors including Y Combinator, Samsung Next, Merus Capital, and Rebel Fund.

Prior to Sitenna, Daniel provided Strategy and M&A consultancy services in over 30 countries, advising Telecom and Technology leaders on strategic decision-making related to mergers and acquisitions, joint venture negotiations, spectrum license auctions, and infrastructure investments. He established Invictus Strategy Associates and held senior positions at KPMG’s UK Deal Advisory practice, Aetha Consulting, and Orange’s Group Spectrum Office.

Daniel earned a Bachelor of Commerce from University College Dublin and a Master of Science in Advanced Management from the University of Bath where he wrote his thesis on mobile spectrum auction theory.

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Simon Marks

Simon Marks

Simon is Arcadis City Executive for the Midlands, with over 500 staff in the Midlands office in Birmingham. With 30 years property, construction, regeneration and asset experience he helps clients make the best of their built and natural assets in relation to achieving their vision, strategy and key priorities. He has led and delivered a range of projects across the public, private and infrastructure sectors and has a deep understanding of the development, housing and regeneration arena. He is currently on the advisory board of City Redi at the University of Birmingham, a Board Member of Women in Property and a trustee and Board Member of Malvern Theatres. Simon is a former board member of the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership and former Chair of the Curzon Enterprise Zone Board.

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Edward Smith

Edward Smith

Edward is Rathbone Investment Management’s co-chief investment officer. He has joint responsibility for Rathbones’ research department, the evolution and performance of its investment process. Day-to-day, he focuses on asset allocation and macroeconomic research, risk analytics, fixed income and currency, business development and external communications. He is the Chair of the Strategic Asset Allocation Committee, co-Chair of the Sector Selection and Portfolio Construction Committees, and a founding member of the Responsible Investment Committee. Edward presents frequently to clients and the media on the economic and financial market outlook. He is a regular guest on Bloomberg TV, CNBC and Sky News.

Edward joined Rathbones from Canaccord, and previously worked at Collins Stewart and BlackRock. He is a Chartered Financial Analyst, and has served on the continuing education committee of CFA UK, produced learning content for the society, most recently on using macroeconomic data to forecast earnings, and written position papers, most recently Chairing the working group on the future of Corporate Financial Reporting. He is a published expert on risk management for high net worth individuals, and is a member of the Society of Professional Economists. He has an MA from the University of Oxford and an MSc with distinction in Economic History from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).

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Sandeep Shingadia

Sandeep Shingadia

Sandeep has over 26 years’ experience in the transport sector and is responsible for leading the development of strategic partnerships at regional, national and international levels to facilitate the development of integrated transport programmes ready for delivery.

Sandeep works strategically with partners to deliver the right transport solutions that benefit a wider investment, economic growth, creating great vibrant places and supporting our residents and business through greater connectivity through sustainable transport options.

Alongside his role at TfWM, Sandeep is Vice-President of METREX (The Network of European Metropolitan Regions and Areas), Board Director for Colmore Business Improvement District and a Chartered Fellow of the Institute of Logistics and Transport.


Jason Longhurst

Jason Longhurst

UK Head of Sustainable Investment & Partnerships at Prologis UK, supporting the company’s plans to strengthen its position and commitment to drive sustainable growth opportunities whilst maintaining its leadership as one of the world’s most sustainable corporations. Acting as lead on public, private and trade sector engagement on wide-ranging agenda areas including innovation, market disruption and sustainable economic growth as well as a positively increasing the company’s profile as a world leader in industrial & logistics real estate.

Jason is Chair of the UK Business Council for Sustainable Development, he is also a NED advising Clean Growth and Sustainable Development SME innovation companies shaping Net-Zero and Green Economy in the UK. He has held a number of Director/Board positions in both public and private sector organisations including regional development agency, county and unitary bodies, driving growth, investment and sustainable development approaches with industry leaders across multiple sectors.

These include national growth programmes unlocking the Humber Energy Bank (offshore energy), the Oxford to Cambridge (OxCamb) Growth Corridor, the City of Bradford national Clean Growth City programme and City of Culture 2025 approach. Current chair of the South East Consortium Housing Sector Workgroup Zero Carbon Challenge, sits on the UK Business Group Alliance for Net Zero and SME Net Zero Working Group for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), and chairs UKBCSD Mainstreaming SDGs Board. Continues to supporting cross sector sustainable development and economic growth in the UK.

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Stephen Phipson

Stephen Phipson

Stephen Phipson CBE has been the Chief Executive of Make UK since joining in 2017. Stephen previously spent 5 years as a senior civil servant holding the position of Head of the Defence and Security Organisation within the Department for International trade delivering export support to UK defence and security businesses and prior to this Stephen held the position of Director for Security Industry Engagement within the Office for Security and Counter Terrorism at the Home Office. Before serving in the UK Government Stephen spent 35 years in senior roles in the manufacturing industry including 15 years with Smiths Group plc as President of Smiths Detection where he was awarded a CBE in 2010 for services to the Security industry. Stephen has worked extensively abroad in high technology manufacturing businesses and started his career as an engineering apprentice with the Plessey company.

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Dr.M.Venkatachalam belongs to Indian Foreign Service 2005 batch. In his diplomatic assignments abroad, he had served as Head of Chancery, Second Secretary/First Secretary in Embassy of India, Tokyo (Japan) (2007-2012). He had served as Charge d’ affaires (Cd’a) in Embassy of India Prague, Czech Republic in 2015 . After appointment Ambassador of India to Czech Republic, he had served as Head of Chancery/First Secretary in Embassy of India in Prague (2016-2017).

In his stints at Headquarters New Delhi, he had served as Under Secretary (Bhutan) in 2013, Deputy Secretary (Gulf) in 2014, Director (External Publicity) from 2018- 2020. At the onset of COVID pandemic, he had served as Director(COVID Cell) and Director (East and Southern Africa) 2020 in the Ministry of External Affairs New Delhi. In January 2021, he was transferred to Chennai, there he served as Head of Branch Secretariat and Protector of Emigrants, Chennai in the Ministry of External Affairs.

He was awarded Ph.D in Economics for his thesis in Food Security in 2005 by Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi which is a pioneering institute for Green Revolution in India.

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Marika Beckford

Marika Beckford

Marika connect the dots for businesses and individuals by building strategic partnerships and brand collaborations that activate innovation and drive digital impact.

As a tech leader, she has led regional and national campaigns fostering collaborations and partnerships with the world’s top tech organisations including Microsoft, Google and Amazon.

Throughout her career, she has developed a wealth of experience working with local and national government agencies, media broadcasters, policy leaders, and stakeholders within higher education and academia.

Today, she leads a diverse portfolio career; as the newly appointed Innovation Manager for Birmingham Metropolitan College, she is a proactive advocate for diversity and inclusion in the tech and creative industries and ambitious visionary. However, her mission doesn't stop there, she is continuously seeking new ways to blend creativity with cutting-edge technology and so, with each endeavour, she aims not only to make an impact but to inspire others to join her in shaping the future

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Adam Park

Adam Park

Adam is the CEO of HelloFresh UK – the largest meal kit provider in the UK and a long-term partner to The Felix Project. Previous to HelloFresh, Adam was a Partner at Boston Consulting Group where he specialised in corporate strategy and transformations. Before that he worked at UBS Investment Bank.


Byron Dixon

Byron Dixon

Byron Dixon OBE is the founder and CEO of the award-winning brand, Micro-Fresh®- An innovative technology used globally by manufacturers and retailers to protect and preserve the freshness of their products.

Byron began his career as a lab technician, developing leather finishing products for ECCO in Denmark. He returned to the UK with extensive knowledge and a network in the footwear industry to launch Corium Solutions in 2001. In 2006, Byron created the winning formula of Micro-Fresh, which prevents mould, bacteria and viruses on products including shoes and bedding. Now, Micro-Fresh® is found in retailers such as John Lewis, Next and M&S. In recent years, Micro-Fresh has also found its way into the residential, construction and home improvement markets with a product called Home-Fresh, an untraceable technology applied to walls helping prevent mould in buildings that are prone to mould and mildew. It has been scientifically proven to stop mould from developing at the source.

In 2014 Byron completed the Goldman Sachs 10,000 businesses programme and went onto win many awards himself and for the company. Most recently, being named amongst the UK's top 50 most ambitious business leaders in 2022 by the LDC.

More speakers to be announced soon...

Schedule for the day

Date: Monday, 10 June 2024
Time: 09:00-17:00
Venue: The Vox Conference Centre, Birmingham, B40 1PU
Attendance: Venue capacity is 550
Last year’s inaugural Summit had 502 attendees.

The Midlands Economic Summit is the largest pan-regional business forum in the Midlands, convening over 500 business, academic and public sector leaders in the region and therefore it presents a unique platform for engagement.

The theme of this year’s Summit, Driving Investment, Powering Growth, comes at a vital time for the Midlands economy and the UK as a whole. Despite vast growth potential, our region still faces major economic challenges from
economic instability, geopolitical tensions, high prices and interest rates, as well as shifts in the way people work.

Now is the time to strengthen the Midlands economy, creating a cohesive regional identity that taps into existing growth opportunities to attract investment. To this end, the Summit aims to foster collaboration for robust and inclusive regional growth.




Arrival and Refreshments


Host Introduction


Our Devolution Opportunity – Interview with East Midlands Mayor, Claire Ward


Panel | The prize: generating shared prosperity


Break / Networking


Economic relations with UK regions post-Brexit – Ambassador Miguel Berger


Jackie Wild, SmartParc & Adam Park, Hello Fresh


Panel | Making the Midlands Work for Business


Driving Economic Growth – Interview with Sir John Peace




Our Devolution Opportunity – Interview with West Midlands Mayor, Richard Parker


Panel | Unlocking investment through collaboration at scale


Power Pitch | Steve Griffiths, East Midlands Airport


Power Pitch | Interview with Maria Machancoses, Midlands Connect


Tech panel: Driving growth through data/AI and new tech


Break / Networking


The Future Economic Landscape | Ed Smith, Co-Chief Investment Officer, Rathbones


Audience Interactive | Midlands Economic Pulse


Global Keynote | Consul General Dr Venkatachalam Murugan


Panel | Science superpower: unleashing innovation for growth


Closing Plenary


Event Close

Midlands Engine Summit Insight 2023




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Narrowing the Midlands productivity gap to the level of the current UK average would be worth £82bn a year to the
national economy.

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Midlands trade and investment is worth £90bn to the UK economyannually.

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20% of England’s exports are provided by the Midlands.

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The Midlands is the largest UK regional economy outside of London, with a population of 11m people and an economy the size of Denmark’s, however it is still underfunded by £91bn pa and operating below its economic potential.



The Midlands Engine is proud to sponsor the Midlands Economic Summit Attendees – an exceptional opportunity to hear from leading regional and national figures, including our Partnership Chairman, Sir John Peace.








The Vox Parking

To take advantage of free parking, please use the South 6/South 5 car parks.

To ensure free car parking, please follow the process below:

Once you have been issued with a ticket from the machine on arrival, please bring the ticket with you to The Vox.

Your parking ticket will need to be validated via the machines situated by the first pillar in the foyer & the cloakroom.

Please validate upon arrival or at any point during the day before you leave The Vox which allows you to leave the car park without having to pay.

We look forward to seeing you there!

Got a question? Send us a quick message.

(The N.E.C Campus)