Innovation Boost for West Midlands Will Drive Place Leadership

Funding announced in the Chancellor’s budget will kick-start projects aimed at making the region a leader in clean tech, health tech and med tech.

Connected Places Catapult, the UK’s innovation accelerator for cities, transport and place leadership, will lead two projects as part of the West Midlands Innovation Accelerator established with the Government’s new innovation funding for the region.

The projects, titled DIATOMIC and Clean Futures, will draw on the Catapult’s expertise in place leadership to understand innovation in the context of the West Midlands, draw upon the region’s unique strengths and maximise opportunities for public, commercial and academic partners in the region.


DIATOMIC (Digital InnovAtion TransfOrMatIve Change) will accelerate place-based innovation in the West Midlands. Harnessing the region’s existing international relationships and through a series of targeted initiatives, it will focus on growing the region’s clean tech, health tech and med tech markets.

The project will enable civic leaders to set innovation challenges, support local SMEs to respond and benefit the community through the UK’s first inclusive innovation hub. It will also promote the use of data to enable better place-based decision making and develop an impact assessment toolkit.

DIATOMIC will be led by Connected Places Catapult alongside project partners: Aston University, Birmingham City Council, Birmingham City University, Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce, and the University of Birmingham.

Clean Futures

Clean Futures will develop the West Midland’s innovation ecosystem helping to drive economic growth, increase industry engagement and accelerate the commercialisation of SMEs in the region. It will support the development of the transport sector in the West Midlands, enabling the transition of manufacturing and associated supply chains from fossil-fuelled solutions to clean-tech. It will see SMEs supported through funding programmes to develop, demonstrate and grow clean-tech transport solutions in partnership with OEMs, Tier 1s and the wider ecosystem.

The project will provide a foundation for sustainability through the Clean Futures Academy, bringing together the West Midlands innovation community to support longer-term sustainability and social benefit. By doing this, the project will drive jobs and growth, bringing new investment to the region and convening buyers and suppliers to tackle the challenges of clean transport.

Clean Futures will be led by Connected Places Catapult alongside project partners: Black Country Innovative Manufacturing Organisation and Coventry University.

“The West Midlands has an extraordinarily rich history of innovation and I’m thrilled that Connected Places Catapult will be deepening engagement across this region. These projects will work to support local innovators, attract investment and realise the benefits of inclusive innovation for the community.

“By understanding a place as a whole, working in partnership, and making choices that are right for this region, we can maximise the jobs and growth that innovation unlocks.”
Nicola Yates OBE, CEO at Connected Places Catapult
“I’m delighted to see the Innovation Accelerator fund finally land in our region which will unlock a further £150m of private sector co-investment. The funding will inject momentum into the delivery of the West Midlands Plan for Growth which sets out how we will unlock hundreds of thousands of new jobs and be home to major global companies in this decade.

“One of my key mayoral missions is to restore our status as the fastest growing region outside of London – just as we were pre-pandemic. Innovation is central to achieving that mission.”
Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, and chair of the WMCA

Both DIATOMIC and Clean Futures are in the initial phase of their planned activities. As a first step, the DIATOMIC project will establish an Innovation Centre of Excellence in Birmingham which will foster collaboration between the six project partners. Clean Futures will commence by honing in on the detailed clean tech challenge areas before then opening the programme up for SMEs to apply for support and funding. Further details of both of these projects will be announced in the coming months.