3.3 Derby’s collaborative economy

3.3.1 Looking beyond Derby: labour, trade and investment

Derby’s economy is reliant on strong relationships beyond the City boundary. It is a net importer of labour, attracting around 11,800 more people in for employment each day than those who leave to work elsewhere. Derby has particularly strong connections to its surrounding districts – Amber Valley, South Derbyshire and Erewash – which have the biggest flows of labour (gross) to and from Derby[i]. As outlined in the economic overview, the difference between the value of work in Derby and the economic benefits enjoyed by residents suggests that the city’s employment opportunities attract high-skilled workers living outside Derby.

Alongside daily labour flows, Derby’s advanced manufacturing and engineering businesses attract talent from around the country and beyond – just one in ten graduates working in the ‘planes, trains and automobiles’ sectors completed their education in the City[ii]. Derby University’s reach is more localised, with over half of graduates coming from the East Midlands region[iii].

Table 3.d : Largest daily commuter flows (gross) to/from Derby (2011 Census)
Rank Local Authority In Out Net Total
1 Amber Valley 8,364 3,692 +4,672 12,056
2 South Derbyshire 7,897 3,517 +4,380 11,414
3 Erewash 6,348 3,194 +3,154 9,542
4 East Staffordshire 2,488 2,384 +104 4,872
5 Nottingham 1,648 2,671 -1,023 4,319
6 North West Leicestershire 1,040 2,616 -1,576 3,656
7 Derbyshire Dales 1,837 1,507 +330 3,344
8 Broxtowe 1,723 822 +901 2,545
9 Ashfield 767 658 +109 1,425
10 Charnwood 624 559 +65 1,183

Derby has strong trade relationships around the world – which will become particularly important to maintain and nurture following the UK’s departure from the EU. Export trade and global collaboration is a vital contributor to the City’s ongoing competitiveness. Per job, the value of the City’s exports is almost 50% higher than the national average and more than double the East Midlands average; making it a UK top 10 City for export value[iv]. The City has also been ranked as top 10 European FDI city by the Financial Times.

The City Council is developing trading relationships with China and India and already has valued civic and tourism relationships with Germany (Osnabruck) and Japan (Toyota City). An economic co-operation agreement was signed in April 2010 with the Shaanxi Provincial Government. The relationship emerged through the presence of Rolls-Royce in both areas and due to the important similarities in the business profile of Shaanxi and Derby. More recently Derby has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Hefei in China’s Anhui Province and with Kolkata in West Bengal.

Table 3.e: Exports per job: Derby compared to other geographies (Centre for Cities analysis)
Exports Per Job (2014) Derby East Midlands GB Nottingham Leicester
Goods £20,800 £8,900 £8,200 £3,300 £7,500
Services £2,600 £2,500 £7,500 £2,500 £2,900
Total £23,400 £11,400 £15,700 £5,800 £10,400

Despite the excellent export performance of the Derby economy, there is a clear disparity between the value of goods traded and the value of services. Per job, the value of services sold internationally from Derby are only around a third of the UK average. This is in line with earlier analysis, identifying room for improvement in the volume and value of more service activity in Derby.

3.3.2 The Metro Economy and regional collaboration

As outlined at section 2.1.2, the economies of Derby and Nottingham are mutually linked and the City Councils are working collaboratively towards a shared vision for the twin cities by 2030. Derby’s economic links with Nottingham are particularly evident in the inter-relationships of people and labour markets. According to 2017 Centre for Cities analysis, Nottingham is the largest source of Derby’s university students, the most popular university destination for Derby residents, and the biggest single destination for Derby’s graduates. Nottingham is also the largest net recipient of internal migrants from Derby, at a rate of 460 a year between 2009 and 2015[v].

Derby also has a unique and complementary role within the metro economy and across the wider Midlands Engine. Nottingham is the larger of the two cities and therefore provides the metro economy with the majority of its employment – 63% of 346,000 jobs available in 2015[vi]. However, Derby’s productive and innovative strengths bring great value to the metro economy.

Chris Henning from Nottingham City Council

3.3.3 Collaboration within the Derby economy

Derby is a city where the spirit of partnership runs deep and where all the key stakeholders work well together and are used to getting things done.   The Derby Renaissance Board is the key economic partnership in the city with a senior membership drawn from the public,  private and voluntary sectors.  This board works collabratively with the Derbyshire Economic Partnership.  The board approves bids to Government and oversees the delivery of all the main regeneration programmes in the city.

3.3.4 Collaborative economy indicators

Measuring Derby East Midlands GB  
Primary indicator: Exports (£) per job (2014) Strength and value of overseas trading relationships £23,400 £11,400 £15,700
Service exports (£) per job (2014) Strength and value of overseas trading relationships outside manufacturing £2,600 £2,500 £7,500
Percentage share of Metro area GVA (2015) Contribution to metro-economy 44%





[i] GENECON analysis of ONS 2011 Census, Origins and destinations data

[ii] AECOM, 2017. Planes, Trains and Automobiles Part 2

[iii] Centre for Cities, 2017, The Great British Brain Drain: an analysis of migration to and from Derby

[iv] Centre For Cities data tool: 2015 data based on Regional Trade Statistics, Regionalised Estimates of UK Service Exports, Labour Force Survey,

[v] Centre for Cities, 2017, The Great British Brain Drain: an analysis of migration to and from Derby

[vi] GENECON analysis of BRES Employment 2015