It’s ‘all change’ at the Black Country Innovative Manufacturing Organisation (BCIMO) as it reaches the end of its launch phase.

The Black Country Innovative Manufacturing Organisation (BCIMO) welcomes Neil Fulton, its new Chief Executive Officer (CEO), as it reaches the end of its launch phase and moves into operation. Neil, who’s most recent role was as Chief Delivery Officer for the Connected Places Catapult, has over 30 years’ experience of the transport and mobility markets.

BCIMO was established to oversee the build, launch and operation of the Very Light Rail National Innovation Centre (VLRNIC); a unique, purpose-built, research and development facility based in Dudley in the West Midlands. It comprises a three-storey innovation centre, complete with engineering hall, laboratories, offices, and an events suite, and a brand new 2.2km test track located along part of the mothballed South Staffordshire line leased from Network Rail. The VLRNIC will support BCIMO in the delivery of its vision for sustainable public transport, which has a specific focus on the development of a new Very Light Rail industry.

Construction of the centre, which began in September 2020, was enabled thanks to funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council (DMBC), the Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership (BCLEP) in partnership with the Midlands Engine Investment Fund (MEIF), the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP) and Coventry City Council. The change in CEO coincides with completion of the build and handover of the keys to BCIMO. The centre will be formally opened in 2023.

Neil’s predecessor as CEO, Dr Nick Mallinson, who created the vision for the VLRNIC back in 2014 and has worked tirelessly to oversee the build and launch of the centre and test track, will now focus on business development, partnerships and driving the innovation agenda in his new role as Director of Business and Innovation.

Neil Fulton, CEO, said:
“I am very excited to be joining the BCIMO team. Very Light Rail has huge potential and this unique, test, research and development national asset will play a pivotal role in supporting the shift to sustainable, integrated mobility of the future”.




Nick MallinsonDr Nick Mallinson, Director of Business and Innovation, said:
“I am delighted that my vision for the VLRNIC is now a reality and look forward to seeing significant activity in the building and across the site over the coming years. I am looking forward to working closely with Neil in delivering the next phase of this project.”



BCIMO is a not-for-profit Research and Technology Organisation (RTO) and operator of the Very Light Rail National Innovation Centre (VLRNIC), a unique, world-class centre for rail innovation based in Dudley in the West Midlands.

BCIMO Project Funders

Very Light Rail National Innovation Centre
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