EDUCATION is the crucial ingredient to global business success and for young people the best way to upgrade their future, according to UK trade ambassador Lord Digby Jones.

He delivered the no-nonsense message during celebrations marking Birmingham’s status as the original design city.

Lord Jones made his comments as he opened the Birmingham Made Me Design EXPO, organised by Birmingham City University at The Mailbox, Birmingham, showcasing innovation and excellence throughout the Midlands.

In a message to businesses and young people, Lord Jones said: “People will only buy if you add value. You can only add value if you have skills and you only have skills if you believe in education.”

More than a dozen exhibitors have taken over shops in The Mailbox to show the world Birmingham and the region’s best in design.

Leading Midlands businesses including Jaguar, AGA Rangemaster and JCB are taking part in the EXPO.

“This event is not just about celebrating our heritage but also about linking the Birmingham brand into tomorrow and Birmingham City University has been so important to this, I want to thank them for having this leadership initiative,” added Lord Jones.

The week-long event runs until Friday and features more than 100 exhibitors from business and education.

It incorporates a Design Fringe programme, with more than 20 art and design seminars, events and activities, including Jaguar’s hybrid super-car concept, the C-X75, being revealed to the public for the first time in the UK.

Lord Jones was joined by Emma Bridgewater, founder and director of Emma Bridgewater, Birmingham City Leader Sir Albert Bore, Jerry Blackett, chief executive of Birmingham Chamber of Commerce and Professor Chris O’Neil, Executive Dean of Birmingham Institute of Art and Design (BIAD).

The EXPO forms an integral part of the IDEA Birmingham initiative alongside the Birmingham City University Entrepreneur store, allowing students and graduates the opportunity to sell and showcase a variety of creative products.