The second-smallest region in terms of population, but one of England's most diverse regions across its five counties: Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire and Northamptonshire. In recent years, Nottingham, Derby and Leicester have put rivalries aside to co-operate as a 'three cities partnership'.
The East Midlands is well known for its strength in automotive, aerospace, rail, marine and performance engineering, but the region also has the second-highest share of innovation-active businesses in the UK. A partnership of businesses, universities and public-sector organisations known as 'iNets' aims to support businesses in each of the region's key sectors. BioCity at Nottingham Trent University is the UK's largest bioscience incubation and innovation centre, housing more than 50 firms. An Energy Technology Institute has been established to speed up the use of new low-carbon energy technologies, bringing together BP, Caterpillar, EDF Energy, E.ON UK, Rolls-Royce and Shell. Loughborough University is at the forefront of research into alternative energies and helped establish Cenex, the UK's first centre of excellence in fuel cells and low-carbon technology.
The region is served by just one international hub, East Midlands Airport, but is within easy reach of Birmingham, Manchester, Robin Hood Doncaster, Humberside, Luton and Stansted airports. Many of its major towns and cities are between one and three hours from London and are close to strong road links, the M1 and A1. The region is the primary UK location for logistics and distribution operations, with 89% of the country within a four-hour truck drive. East Midlands Airport is the largest pure freight terminal in the UK. The region also has relatively easy access to the main east coast seaports. However, campaigners who want the electrification of the rail network from London to Nottingham have been told they may have to wait until 2017.
The unemployment rate has been rising steadily over the past year and the region's average annual salary is 10% below the UK mean. The region has eight universities and two higher-education institutes. Its universities won five out of a potential 16 prizes at this year's Times Higher Education Leadership & Management Awards, and every East Midlands university was shortlisted in at least one category.
Rolls-Royce, Toyota, Bombardier, AstraZeneca, Boots, Northern Foods, Pedigree Masterfoods, PepsiCo, 3M.
Quality of life
The region is one of the most affordable places to live, with average house prices in the UK 33% below the UK mean and the shortest commuting time of all regions in the UK. More than 10% of the region is designated an area of outstanding natural beauty, while Derbyshire's Peak District is the second most visited national park in the world. The region has a variety of cultural and sporting venues, including The Curve, the biggest new cultural project in Europe.
Average office rental costs are 33% below UK average, with industrial property purchase costs 19% below UK average. Nottingham headline rents: offices £18.95 per sq ft, industrial £5.25 to £5.50 per sq ft.
A new VIP Global Fast-Track service helps firms quickly establish their operations in the East Midlands. It offers free UK company registration and six months' free 'virtual office', including the potential to access up to six months' free touchdown office space at selected locations. The East Midlands Early Growth Fund is a £5m venture capital fund that invests in start-up and early-stage businesses in the region.
Emin, a network of six British Midlands universities based at the Innovation Centre at De Montfort University, offers 17 varying-sized units for start-up businesses from 1 to 10 people. BioCity Nottingham, the UK's largest bioscience and healthcare innovation centre, provides 130,000 sq ft of state-of-the-art laboratories, equipment and office space for bioscience start-ups and more established ventures. The NG2 development has been Nottingham's most active business park, with occupiers such as Experian, HBOS and CIS.
Ibuprofen, the MRI scanner and genetic fingerprinting were all developed in the East Midlands.
East Midlands Development Agency - 0115 947 1773; www.emda.org.uk
Government Office for the East Midlands - 0115 971 9971; www.goem.gov.uk
Business Link East Midlands - 0845 058 6644; www.businesslink.gov.uk/eastmidlands.