Despite the majority of ICT businesses in the West Midlands region employing fewer than ten people, almost 500 businesses in the region are engaging in research and development, according to a survey by the West Midlands ICT cluster.
In light of the recession, 33 percent of the 1,503 companies surveyed – which ranged from ICT consultancies to software design, new media and e-commerce – still invest in research and development, highlighting the importance of technology-derived competitive advantages in the region.
Yet 72 percent of the respondents are small, with ten or fewer employees, and 19 percent have just one employee. Nevertheless, the survey demonstrated that the businesses have longevity, with 56 percent indicating that they had been active at least ten years.
The companies’ key strength lies in their diversity and niche product offer, according to the survey results. The companies surveyed operate in a wide range of key market sectors, with 17 percent indicating that they enjoyed a significant competitive advantage in a specific sub-sector or niche market that offers a higher than average opportunity for growth. In addition, 33 percent of respondents – a total of 499 businesses – offer products or services for which they own the Intellectual Property Rights.
Mike Musson, ICT Cluster Manager at Advantage West Midlands, said: “It is encouraging that so many firms across the Heart of England are still determined to invest in research and development, even though budgets are being squeezed in this economic climate.
“As demonstrated by the ICT businesses surveyed, niche market enterprise is key to growth during a downturn. Our survey also highlights how the region is home to many innovative companies that are pushing ahead to deliver exciting new products and services that customers would struggle to find elsewhere.”
Notes to Editors:
All data is derived from the ICT Directory & Strategic Survey 2008, conducted by the West Midlands ICT Cluster of Advantage West Midlands during the last quarter of 2008 (September – December 2008)
About ICT Cluster
The ICT Cluster is one of thirteen clusters established by Advantage West Midlands as part of its economic development strategy. These clusters have been chosen on the basis of their current strength in the region and their potential to create jobs and economic growth.
Advantage West Midlands is one of nine Regional Development Agencies in England whose role is to provide leadership and action to create more, better jobs and in improve the standard of living for all in the West Midlands.
The ICT Cluster will be hosting the Annual West Midlands ICT Conference and ICT Excellence Awards on 10 November 2009.
For further media information, please contact Rebecca Curwin at Trimedia on 0121 265 2760 or email