Innovating out of recession workshop summary

With innovation seen as a key way for businesses to navigate the recession, the Innovating out of Recession workshop at our Annual Conference brought together an interesting mix of speakers and delegates to discuss innovative practices, measuring innovation and how innovation may change the industrial structure of the West Midlands.

Cliff Dennett from thoughtengine, co-author of Innovation in a recession (chapter 7 in the Fit for the Future book ), kicked off a series of presentations covering a range of innovation related topics. Cliff’s presentation focussed on ways in which we can explore cost-cutting but value adding activities.
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Engaging communities in the new economy – Observatory conference debate

Engaging communities in the new economySupport the community organisations who are working on the ground, was a strong theme in both workshops on ‘engaging communities in the new economy’ at the Observatory’s 2009 Annual Conference.

The workshop heard from voices working with communities in the region who articulated their frustrations in having to fit their work around funders’ requirements, rather than funders coming to them and saying ‘how can we support you to do what you do?’

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Roundup of workshop on skills for the emerging economy

Skills graphic from chapter 5 of Fit for the Future book‘Skills for the emerging economy’ was a lively and well-attended workshop held at the Observatory’s Annual Conference on 20th October 2009.

Steve Sawbridge, from the Association of Colleges, chaired the workshop, which featured presentations from Mike Beasley, Pat Jackson and Andy Phillips.

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Environment and economy: Fit for the Future?

Environment & EconomyThe 2009 Observatory conference, West Midlands: Fit for the Future?, provided a forum for debate on economic recovery in the West Midlands.

One element of the debate concentrated on how to link the environment and economy better, based on chapters 4 and 9 of the Fit for the Future? book.

Delegates at the Environment and Economy workshop discussed Green Infrastructure, leadership and the value of the environment, aiming to understand how to embed the environment into regional policy making more effectively. Discussions ranged from the best way of doing this to overcoming what’s currently standing in the way.

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What will be the key drivers for the West Midlands’ future? Notes from ‘Regional Drivers for the Future’ workshop at the Observatory’s 2009 conference

Chap-3_v1.0_image_ONThere was little disagreement from workshop participants with Gill Bentley‘s opening suggestion that ‘this recession is almost tantamount to war’ in terms of its impact on the region’s prosperity.

Dr Chris Upton‘s account, in chapter 1 of West Midlands: Fit for the Future? (PDF, 5.7mb), of the devastating impact that the 1790s war with France had on the region’s manufacturing industry served as a fitting backdrop for the workshop debate, which asked participants to address the question:

‘What will be the key drivers for the region’s future?’

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Presentations and speeches from Annual Conference

Rosie Paskins, Richard Hyde and Richard Woolhouse at the West Midlands Regional Observatory's Annual Conference 2009

Left to right: Rosie Paskins, Richard Hyde, Richard Woolhouse

We held our Annual Conference, titled ‘West Midlands: Fit for the Future?’, yesterday in Sutton Coldfield.

The focus of the conference was on the economic recovery of the West Midlands, rather than the recession, and how we best position the West Midlands for the economic recovery.

The conference followed on from the book West Midlands: Fit for the Future? we launched back in July 2009.

The speeches and workshop discussions generated a great deal of debate, challenges and ideas on steps for the region’s policy makers, and those supporting policy with evidence, to now take forward.

The workshops generated a lot of content, which we’ll share on this blog over the next few days (slides, questions, and ways forward).

Here are the presentations and audio from the four speakers in the main conference room:

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Live blogging the Observatory’s Annual Conference

West Midlands: Fit for the Future?Our 2009 Annual Conference, titled West Midlands: Fit for the Future?, takes place tomorrow in Sutton Coldfield, Birmingham.

You can keep up-to-date with comments and tweets about the conference as it unfolds on the day using this CoverItLive liveblog (replay the liveblog here).

You can add comments directly in the liveblog itself or by sending a tweet containing the hashtag #wmroconf09.

All the content surrounding the conference—slides, photos, useful links, videos, blog posts, tweets, and so on—is being aggregated on this Pageflakes. Again, tag any content you want to share with wmroconf09.

The conference is on Tuesday, 20th October. The liveblog will open at 10am.

Challenge or opportunity? How to plan for climate change

Blog ACtion Day 2009 on Climate ChangeToday is Blog Action Day 2009, when more than 8,000 blogs from 146 countries are discussing issues around climate change.

Here’s our contribution to this global initiative.

In a few weeks’ time, we’ll publish the findings from our state of the region dialogue on climate change titled Challenge or Opportunity? How to plan for climate change.

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Debate on the future of the region is picking up pace

Fit for the Future? Green InfrastructureThe West Midlands: Fit for the Future? debate is picking up pace, with the Observatory today publishing an eleventh chapter to add to the original book of ten chapters (pdf, 5.7mb).

The Forestry Commission’s Bill Heslegrave felt so strongly about the inclusion of green infrastructure in a debate on the economic recovery of the West Midlands, that he submitted a chapter of his own (pdf, 928kb).

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Speakers announced for the 2009 conference

West Midlands: Fit for the Future?One month to go until the Observatory’s 2009 conference – “West Midlands: Fit for the Future?” – on Tuesday 20th October at the Ramada Hotel in Sutton Coldfield.

Book online or fax us a booking form

Entitled “West Midlands: Fit for the Future?”, the conference will follow on from a book of the same name launched by the Observatory in July. The focus will be on the economic recovery of the region, rather than the recession, and how we position the West Midlands to ‘hit the ground running’. Delegates will be encouraged to discuss issues raised in the book and influence development of the evidence base to inform the Single Regional Strategy.

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Observatory Annual Report 2008-09

Observatory Annual Report 2008-09The Observatory has published its Annual Report for 2008-09 (PDF, 506kb).

The report summarises our work and achievements over the 2008-09 financial year.

A shorter summary will be produced for the annual conference, taking place in Sutton Coldfield on 20th October 2009. The conference will explore the economic future of the West Midlands.

For more information, contact Oliver Nicholls.

West Midlands: Fit for the Future?

West Midlands: Fit for the Future? Cover ArtOn 21st July, from 5pm to 7pm, the Observatory is holding a short drinks reception in central Birmingham to launch our book, “West Midlands: Fit for the Future?”

The book comprises ten chapters, written by ten different authors, reflecting their personal views on how the region can best place itself in readiness for the economic upturn, as well as highlighting any potential obstacles.

Our ultimate aim is to stimulate debate, promote discussion and influence policy on the future growth of the region. The focus is on the future prosperity of the West Midlands, rather than on the effects of the recession, exploring the region’s ability to maximise its potential as we move out of the downturn.

At our annual conference on 20th October 2009, delegates will be encouraged to discuss and debate the issues raised in the book, and help develop an evidence-based action plan for the region.

If you would be interested in attending the launch event, please email info@wmro.org or call 0121 202 3250.

Issues for the Observatory to take forward…

The Oracle newsletterThe quarter four 2008 (PDF, 685KB) edition of the Observatory’s new-look The Oracle newsletter, is now available.

This edition reviews our 2008 annual conference, “Better Evidence, Better Policy” with reports on all of the talks and workshops from the day, as well as the main issues that we will be taking forward in 2009.

Podcasts of the day are still available (view in iTunes or another RSS reader).

We welcome your comments on the issues that we’re planning to progress from the day.

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Briefings on current and forthcoming Observatory research

At our recent Annual Conference there were four printed briefing papers on the Observatory booth. These briefing papers introduce four key current and forthcoming research projects.

If you didn’t get a copy, the briefings are available to download below:

Acknowledging the cross-sector importance of culture

Cover of State of the Region Report 2008October has been an important month for colleagues at the West Midlands Regional Observatory.

Not only was the State of the Region Report 2008 launched, along with the Regional Integrated Economic Assessment, the Observatory held its annual conference, attracting a good cross-section of the region’s key thinkers and policy-makers. In all three cases, the importance of culture, particularly to the region’s economy, was highlighted.

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