Please see below some examples of projects we worked on in 2024.

Midlands Engine Observatory

The EIU provides the resource behind the Midlands Engine Observatory, which is a cross regional partnership with the ability to harness region-wide strengths and expertise as we work towards a successful future. It is also a core part of the work of the Midlands Engine, where it provides essential insight and information to support all areas of delivery. By tracking the impact of the interventions made across the region, the Observatory can quantify the impact of programmes and activities at a pan-regional level.

The Midlands Engine Observatory gathers data and intelligence, shapes policy insights and helps target investment for recovery and growth in our region. It is the only pan-regional Observatory in England. The Midlands Engine Observatory is an alliance of leading academic researchers and economic and industry experts working together to deliver the regionally focused research and analysis our partners need in every part of the Midlands.

Access the Intelligence Hub here


The EIU were integral to providing the background intelligence to a consortium of partners working on a bid for the WorkWell scheme, successfully enabling the consortium to win £3.7m for the Black Country area. The Black Country is one of 15 places around the country to be chosen as a pilot area

The WorkWell scheme will provide early intervention to people who are experiencing barriers to gain or retain employment due to health conditions or disabilities. It aims to support 4,000 local people on their journey to gain employment or retain jobs, providing them with the support to start, stay or succeed in work.

The scheme will see organisations work together to provide personalised support to individuals to help them achieve their goals.

A partnership working across the NHS, local government, job centres, social housing, education, the voluntary sector, and wider employers was integral to the success of the bid for £3.7 million of government funding to make the scheme a reality.

It will be led by Black Country Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust (BCHFT) but will draw on the expertise of partner organisations to provide knowledge and shared learning to develop the service, as well as opportunities to provide holistic support to participants. Work and Health Coaches will work with participants to gain an understanding of their needs, areas of work they are interested in pursuing and what help they need to overcome barriers to achieve their goals. The participant will be offered support and referred to other services if longer-term help is required.

Date of project: May 2024

Mapping the Midlands Health Tech Sector

The EIU team are mapping the Health Technologies sector in the WMCA area.

The methodology for the study includes: Establishing a reliable and credible baseline for the sector via secondary data by working collectively to agree the definition of the sector to ensure we are collecting as comprehensive a range of data on businesses as possible and analysing existing data, databases and publications relevant to the project, including Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) Codes and Real-Time Industrial Classification (RTIC) Codes and The Office for Life Sciences publication, as well as a thorough review of past studies and reports.

Data sources:

  • Data City for data on businesses in the cluster
  • Dealroom for investment and investor data
  • Adzuna for labour market intelligence
  • The Office for National Statistics
  • The Office for Life Sciences

Date of project: April 2024 - August 2024

WM 5GIR Benefits

The EIU team are involved with the 5G Innovation Regions (5GIR) work within the West Midlands.

The WM 5GIR programme is part of a £40 million fund for local authorities across the UK to establish themselves as ‘5G Innovation Regions’ (5GIRs).

WM5GIR objectives include:

  • Accelerate successful development and adoption of live solutions in sector adoption hubs (JLR plant in Solihull and Birmingham, Coventry, and Wolverhampton)
  • Extract learnings from the hubs, raise awareness and engagement with other sector and technology organisations
  • Accelerate the development and adoption of live solutions via the sector adoption programmes by making it radically simpler to develop or adopt 5G solutions.

The EIU team are working closely with WM5G and partners to ensure the benefits of the project are captured and reported directly to The Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT) on a monthly and quarterly basis.

Date of project: Jan 2024 - March 2025

Disability Needs Assessment

As part of its Health function, the West Midlands Combined Authority is producing a comprehensive Disability Needs Assessment, based on its core function – housing, transport, employment and skills as well as health and wellbeing and democratic data. This needs assessment will be used by the WMCA’s Disability Working Group to determine the “opportunities for action” which is proposed to be taken forward by the new West Midlands Mayor and the WMCA from June 2024.

The Economic Intelligence Unit was contracted by the West Midlands Combined Authority to review existing, principally local and regional data available on disabled people and in doing so, identify the trends, key messages and data gaps. This data evidence base complements the other disability insight and intelligence that has been contracted by the WMCA as part of its comprehensive Disability Needs Assessment.

Date of project: February 2024 - April 2024

Orlik Trust Apprenticeship Survey

Metals and materials are everywhere. They are the foundation of our infrastructure, buildings, and vehicles, while inherent to the products we use on a day-to-day basis. In Sandwell and the wider West Midlands, these foundation industries remain a major part of the economy.

The Susan Orlik Trust commissioned The EIU to undertake a survey of metals and materials businesses across Sandwell to understand the experiences of these businesses in relation to apprenticeships.

The results from the survey are intended to form the basis of a pilot project in Sandwell to improve the quantity and quality of apprenticeships in the Metals Sector while fostering stronger connections between schools and metals companies. The survey was collaboratively designed and developed by The Economic Intelligence Unit (EIU) and the UK Metals Council (UKMC). The survey aligns with UKMC's mission to elevate and advocate for the UK Metals Sector while shaping policy development. The UKMC encompasses leaders from the full spectrum of the supply chain, from primary manufacturing to recycling, SME to OEM.

The survey was conducted online between 1 March and 31 March 2024 and was distributed through a range of channels, including UKMC networks, social media, and email lists. The survey results offer insights into the potential barriers hindering companies' apprenticeship recruitment efforts and the broader macroeconomic factors impacting the metals sector. As part of the analysis of the results, we explored whether organisations had previously employed apprentices, if they were likely to in the future, if not, what was preventing them and what support and guidance would help them to recruit.

Date of project: February 2024 - July 2024

Wolverhampton Culture and Creative Industries Sector

The Economic Intelligence Unit was commissioned by the City of Wolverhampton Council in March 2024 to provide a partial update of the BOP Consulting strategic planning for culture report from 2016. This refresh was to primarily focus on providing an update on the culture and creative industries for jobs, businesses and the value of the economy. Along with also providing insights into Wolverhampton’s culture and creative industries assets, participation in cultural engagement, the visitor economy and investment.

Date of project: March 2024

Energy Security White Paper Evidence Base

The Economic Intelligence Unit, working within their Midlands Engine Observatory function provided the evidence base to underpin the Energy Security White Paper which was being written for the Midlands Engine. The Energy Security White Paper aim was to inform and help shape national policy and investment so that they are fully cognisant of the Midlands context and opportunity – for national and regional benefit.

The Evidence Base included a comprehensive analysis on:

Midlands Energy Overview

  • Energy consumption by region/sector – gas/oil/electricity
  • Energy generation by region/type
  • Renewable energy generation & capacity

Midlands Business & Energy Overview

  • Proportion of ‘energy intensive’ businesses in region – how does this compare to other regions?
  • Size of commercial ‘energy sector’ in the region

Midlands Energy Vectors

  • Wind (offshore and onshore)
  • Solar
  • Hydrogen
  • Nuclear
  • Energy from Waste
  • Biomass
  • Heat networks

Midlands Energy Systems

  • Heat networks
  • Power generation
  • Smart energy systems/networks

Energy efficiency

View the evidence base

Date of project: December 2023 - January 2024

WMCA Gainshare Review

The EIU were commissioned by the West Midlands Combined Authority to undertake an evaluation of the West Midlands Investment Programme as part of the Gainshare Review.

The key issues to be explored through the research were:

  • Looking at projects progress against project milestones / outputs and outcomes
  • Expectations on future outcomes
  • Extent to which the Investment Fund is levering in additional sources of finance to the West Midlands
  • Key delivery lessons, including how far the project is encouraging local/ regional solutions and helping to leverage key assets/ expertise in area
  • Additionality – to what extent partners would be taking forward activity without Investment Fund support.

Date of project: September 2023 - March 2025

Metals and Materials Forum

By setting up a West Midlands Metals and Materials Forum in 2021, Black Country LEP provided the sector with a local representative voice and a policy vehicle that bridges the public and private sectors. Bringing together businesses, trade bodies / business groups (especially UK Metals Council) and universities, the now EIU-coordinated Forum uses an evidence-led, industry-led approach to identify and act on sector opportunities and challenges for the Black Country and wider region.

For example, working directly with businesses and trade bodies to gather evidence, report and lobby on issues related to steel import quotas, energy exemption schemes, and skills development – engaging directly with government departments and other local / national organisations to demonstrate our evidence-based case to affect change.

Date of project: Quarterly

WMCA Worklessness Report

Analysis of regional and sub-regional trends in the WMCA area. The report was co-produced with the WMCA to support the identification of different groups and places which may be influencing regional growth for good or for bad, and which may merit more detailed consideration through potential deeper dive discussions. 

This research has been delved into at a West Midlands 7 Met level, to understand how these national trends are translated at the local level. This will allow local decision makers to understand the local workforce better and develop programs to tackle increasing economic inactivity due to ill-health, potentially working with NHS colleagues.

View the storymap here

Date of project: June 2023

Black Country iTree Eco Study

With funding from the Woodland Trust, The EIU has worked with partners to survey trees across 1,000 plots across the Black Country to understand the health and resilience of the Black Country’s urban forest and calculate where tree planting can provide the most benefits for people and wildlife. The study was led by the Black Country Consortium, in partnership with Birmingham Tree People, Treeconomics, Barton Hyett Associates, and Forest Research. The project was funded by the Woodland Trust’s Emergency Tree Fund.

Lack of data and information around the value of urban green infrastructure and trees can leave them vulnerable to cutting down or poor maintenance as they are not understood or appreciated. We wanted to rectify this on a local scale. This was a study that looked at all of the trees across the Black Country. We were able to identify how many trees there are, their condition and the species diversity that exists here. We were also able to measure the benefits these trees are providing, not only to the people who live and work here, but also to the environment.

Natural capital/green infrastructure is poorly understood and undervalued, and the benefits green infrastructure provides are not adequately described and quantified. Understanding these benefits can help to protect and manage this vital resource.

The aims of the project:

  • To illustrate the structure and composition of the urban forest, including the species composition, population diversity and tree condition.
  • Calculate the ecosystem services.
  • Conduct a risk analysis of the susceptibility to pests and diseases.
  • Promote the Black Country’s Urban Forest to all and emphasise the benefits of trees.

View the storymap here

View the canopy cover by ward map here

Date of project: January 2021 - January 2023

Black Country Economy of Together Action Plan

An evidence-based approach underpinned by inclusivity and equity is critical to delivering and measuring the success of the Black Country’s Economy of Together (EOT) vision. This is highlighted in the 2021-published EOT 2030 Action Plan, setting out the Black Country’s collective vision to be a more sustainable, healthy and inclusive place. It is an intelligence-led framework, underpinned by EIU data and insight, driven by 4 pillars of focus (equalities, education, enterprise and environment) and cross-cutting focus of health.

Importantly, The EIU has already been involved in delivering on the actions set out and pulling the levers for change: for example through the establishment of the Black Country Anchor Network and continuation / growth of local authority level networks, of which The EIU is a key part of in collaboration with local authorities, the NHS and other anchor institutions.

Download EOT plan

Date of project: 2020 - 2022

Repowering the Black Country

Aiming to address the government’s clean growth challenge, Repowering the Black Country helps to support manufacturing businesses decarbonise, tackling international climate change on a local level. The plan’s ambitious aim is for the Black Country to reduce industrial carbon emissions by around 1.3MtCO² by 2040.

The EIU provided the evidence base to the project, by undertaking an in-depth mapping exercise to understand the distribution of energy intensive industries across the Black Country area, and pin-point 4 initial zero carbon hub locations for the project. This mapping exercise not only looked at what energy infrastructure was already present at the sites, but what development was also planned around sites, to see if there could be co-benefits with schemes in the area. The EIU also developed an interactive portal for the project team to host maps and data during the project.

View the storymap here

View the project website here

Date of project: March 2020 - March 2023

WM5G Evaluation

The EIU team delivered the end of project evaluation for the West Midlands 5G project. The aim of the programme closure report for the West Midlands 5G (WM5G) Urban Connected Communities Programme (UCC) was to provide an overview of the programme, drawing together key strands such as results, benefits and lessons learned from across WM5G workstreams - while providing a high-level, evaluation of the overall programme against the ambitions of its original business case.

View the report here

Date of project: January 2022 - March 2022

West Midlands Local Industrial Strategy Evidence Base

The West Midlands Local Industrial Strategy (LIS) was the first of its kind when it was launched in 2019, driven by the West Midlands Combined Authority in partnership with the three LEPs. Black Country LEP and The EIU were integral to its development, publication and delivery: leading the evidence gathering and analysis aspect of the LIS – including in-depth macroeconomic and sector deep dives - and spearheading the development and implementation of 5 industry-led sector action plans (aerospace, construction, health and care, metals and materials, and rail).

The comprehensive LIS evidence base, produced and published by The EIU alongside academic partners, was integral to the formation of the strategy, providing a sound factual foundation across key productivity drivers, policy verticals and key sectors.

Download file

Date of project: 2018 - 2019

Our Clients

The EIU analysed the first 20 years of A&M EDM’s growth from a two person start-up to an engineering sub-contractor employing 75 people and £7m turnover. This economic impact report was a groundbreaking study of the growth of a manufacturing SME and its contribution to regional Gross Value Added, creating and developing skilled manufacturing jobs and investment. The report analysed the distribution of employees, customers and suppliers across the West Midlands.
- Phil Calcutt

“The EIU has provided Walsall and our neighbouring authorities with a robust evidence base for over 20 years now, really adding value to our processes and decision-making across key areas including regeneration, skills, business and the wider economy. It is our pleasure to host The EIU on behalf of local partners and the wider region, ensuring the unique skill and resource of this vital asset continues now and far into the future.”

- Councillor Mike Bird
Leader of Walsall Council