University professor to lead city business champions

University of Wolverhampton's deputy Vice-Chancellor is to chair a city-wide group of business champions

The University of Wolverhampton’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor is the new chair of the Wolverhampton Business Champions.

Professor Ian Oakes has taken over the role of the group which brings together some of the city’s most prominent employers including the University, Marston’s, UTC Aerospace Systems, JLR, Moog and Wolves FC.

The role of the Business Champions is to work with the city council, local politicians and other key stakeholders to help make Wolverhampton a better place to live, work, invest and visit.

Professor Oakes has been a member of the group for a number of years and takes over the role from Phil Barnett, former divisional director of Marston’s.

Professor Oakes said: “There is a lot of optimism in Wolverhampton at the moment in terms of regeneration and investment”

“The role of the Business Champions is to help businesses in the city to prosper and to work closely with the City Council, the Local Enterprise Partnership and other key organisations including the newly established Combined Authority to do all we can to benefit the local economy and create jobs and investment,” he added.

Wolverhampton’s prospects have never looked better, Professor Oakes noted: “There are a number of projects coming to fruition like i10 and the recently completed Science Centre on the University’s Science Park and many more in the pipeline including Westside, Springfield, Canal Side, i9 and the area around the railway station and transport interchange.”

Wolverhampton has a history and reputation for manufacturing, but Professor Oakes said this is evolving towards high-value manufacturing and making high-cost precision components.

“This is especially relevant,” Professor Oakes added, “when you consider recently the UK recorded its highest manufacturing output for 10 years and Wolverhampton has been highlighted as a hotspot for starting a business.”