Worcestershire building relationship with Chinese powerhouses
PUBLISHED: 10:18 30 November 2015 | UPDATED: 10:18 30 November 2015
Twenty-two high ranking Chinese officials got to see World Class Worcestershire at its best – meeting with Council Chiefs, local business and educational institutions, as well as having the opportunity to take in tourist attractions such as the stunning Stanbrook Abbey, Malvern Hills and the historic Morgan Motors.
World Class Worcestershire shone through as quintessentially English with a heart of innovation and our Chinese guests were impressed with our growth ambitions and opportunities for investment. The delegation were visiting as part of the World Cities programme, which has made funding available to 4 regions of Europe to develop relationships with regions in China. Mercia was successful in its application to work with the regions of Tianjin and Guangzhou in China. These are strong areas for collaboration because of the clear resonance with the history and changes in the manufacturing base in Mercia, with both regions seeking in particular to move from basic manufacturing into high value manufacturing and undergo a technology-led industrial renaissance.
The programme has provided funding for one working meeting for a delegation from Tianjin and Guangzhou to Mercia, one working meeting for a delegation from Mercia to Tianjin and Guangzhou (to take place on 27 April 2015) and one further working meeting in China. The delegates were at County Hall from 2pm for a formal presentation delivered by Leader of the Council Adrian Hardman and Chief Executive Clare Marchant on the cultural and economic advantages of working and living in Worcestershire.
The objectives of the collaboration are:
1. To attract inward investment into Mercia. There are possibilities for inward investment into Mercia’s infrastructure. There have been a number of examples of this in the recent past, particularly within the motor industry.
2. To open up business to business opportunities. Mercia has been developing a relationship with the city region of Tianjin, China for 18 months. To further cement this relationship and build on the business relationships already established with Tianjin the World Cities programme will be used to develop business to business opportunities particularly in the SME and 2nd and 3rd tier companies.
3. To explore research, technology development & innovation opportunities. Mercia has a strong research and development base in both its universities and research organisations, consequently there is an opportunity to develop opportunities with Chinese companies, universities and research organisations.
4. To develop professional training, student exchange, apprenticeships and education (FEI & HEI): Many Mercian Universities have a strong international reputation for recruiting foreign students, delivering degree courses abroad and undertaking international staff exchange programmes. There is also a strength in the delivery of apprenticeships in both the HE and FEI sector. Although many universities are already active in China they are always keen to further develop their links.
5. To strengthen cultural links: Along with business opportunities, cultural exchange between Mercia and Guangzhou and Tianjin should not be ignored. All 3 areas have distinct heritage and cultural offerings which, if shared, could further strengthen ties. For example Mercia has Shakespeare and the Royal Shakespeare Company who have been translating the canon into Mandarin.
6. Civic Cooperation: The World Cities programme will help strengthen civic cooperation between Mercia and Guangzhou and Tianjin allowing for exchange of knowledge and good practices between the political leaders on issues such as sustainable and inclusive urbanisation. The experiences of Mercia in dealing with rapid industrialisation and urbanisation would be invaluable to both Chinese cities.
Clare Marchant, Chief Executive of Worcestershire County Council, said: “The World Cities programme is a fantastic way to ensure Worcestershire continues to flourish economically through encouraging greater links with foreign partners. We are delighted that Mercia’s application to work with the regions of Tianjin and Guangzhou was successful, and believe that our involvement will only enhance Worcestershire’s profile to a global audience.”
Adrian Hardman, Leader of the Council, said: “It was a pleasure to meet the delegation, and I think both parties gained a great deal from the visit. I look forward to our continued partnership, and hope the delegates enjoyed visiting World Class Worcestershire.”
Gary Woodman, Executive Director of Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “The collaboration with Tianjin and Guangzhou presents a huge range of opportunities for Mercia, and for Worcestershire in particular. Worcestershire is the fastest growing county economy in the country, and working with international partners of this calibre will help ensure that we continue to attract varied and high quality investment.”
Pablo Gandara, lead for the European Commission World Cities Programme, said: “The visit to the West Midlands has been well received by the Chinese delegation. They have been able to get a clear picture of the strengths of the region and the opportunities available to them here. I am confident that these opportunities will be developed by both sides and the relationships with Guangzhou and Tianjin will go from strength to strength.”