Technological development and innovation in traditional Midland industries received a resounding endorsement yesterday from Iain Gray, the chief executive of the Technology Strategy Board.
Speaking at a CBI lunch hosted and sponsored by the Aston University Business School, Mr Gray highlighted the achievements of traditional manufacturing and automotive industries in the Midlands for positioning themselves at the forefront of innovation and technological development in their sectors.
"Different regions have specific strengths when it comes to leading the way in creating new technologies and fostering a climate of innovation," Mr Gray said.
"The Midlands has used its strong manufacturing and automotive base to reposition itself as a progressive and forward thinking business hub for their industries."
Mr Gray cited Morgan Motor Company, based in Malvern, as an excellent example of where a very traditional family business has led the market in the development of low carbon automotive technology.
The company has created the Morgan Life car, which employs a fuel cell that operates electronically by combining on board hydrogen with oxygen form the air outside.
Morgan collaborated with Oxford University, Oscar Automotive and Cranfield University, QinetiQ and Linde AG on the car that was exhibited at the Geneva Motor Show in March.
Mr Gray was also keen to mention the i-House, launched in West Bromwich this week and developed by Medilink West Midlands, which showcases and promotes a wide range of assisted-living technology, created by local Midlands businesses, for the elderly and disabled.
Christina Keey-Andersen, medical technologies cluster manager, Advantage West Midlands believes that "Intelligent Health is an area of huge potential for our regional industry to develop new products for a rapidly emerging market".
Midland businesses are also pioneering new technology in e-health, which involves concepts such as the self administration of medicine and virtual health care, where professionals collaborate and share information through digital equipment.
The serious games business, which involves transferring the technology of interactive games into the educational sector for use in universities, schools and industry is a another strong suit in the Midlands according to Mr Gray.
The Technology Strategy Board is a non-governmental body that promotes, supports and invests in technology research, development and commercialisation.
The board adopts a number of strategies to foster technological development throughout and between industries. The "challenge-led" approach is currently favoured by the board, where problems are first identified and then creativity in business is 'unleashed' to find solutions.
However Mr Gray is adamant that only by bringing together professionals and businesses from all sectors can a real catalyst for innovation and technology be created. "The more interfaces you have and the more they meet the more likely you are to have that spark. For example, technology for battery cars has been developed from lap-top computers," Mr Gray said. "If you are a manufacturer, don't just stay within your manufacturing base if you are seeking innovation guidance and inspiration. Knowledge transfer networks with other sectors can provide you with the solutions."