Beverley NielsenBeverley Nielsen, Director of Employer Engagement at Birmingham City University

The government’s commitment to credit easing, loan guarantees for SMEs, additional infrastructure investment and increasing the Regional Growth Fund, together with the creation of a 100 per cent capital allowance for the Black Country and above the line R&D tax credits for larger companies will provide some much needed boosts to enterprise and job creation.

Having held our Innovation Hub for a Day event earlier this week attended by over 80 from regional businesses, universities, and the public sector, we know how much emphasis is still required on stimulating innovation and design excellence in our economy.

The focus on high value added goods and services together with brand differentiation are ways that we can build additional market share both at home and abroad.  It is up to us now to build on the ‘Chancellor’s Plan A Plus’ to deliver for our region. It is plain that we need to coordinate more of our efforts across the public and private sectors.

Only by pulling together to drive synergies through the skills and knowledge transfer desperately required will we create the opportunities for entrepreneurial regeneration of our economy.  Birmingham City University realises the lead role that the higher education sector needs to take here and we are ready to play our part.

In launching IDEA Birmingham – the Birmingham City University-led business think-tank – we are keen to showcase the abundance of innovation and design excellence already being produced in our region.

As a university-business collaboration IDEA Birmingham is a membership partnership being spearheaded by Birmingham City University with Aston and Staffordshire Universities. It aims to encourage design and knowledge transfer to drive innovation, job and wealth creation as well as graduate retention in the Midlands.


Innovation Hub for a Day

The partnership hosted the Innovation Hub for a Day event, which was attended by economic guru Will Hutton.

Mr Hutton, Executive Vice-Chair of The Work Foundation, told regional business leaders that Birmingham was ideally placed to set up an “innovation eco-system”, a pioneering public-private sector partnership between enterprising businesses, universities and other public sector agencies, such as the city council.

The driver behind this partnership is “open innovation”, with partners sharing the risk of generating and implementing new ideas that will create new products or services – which in turn will create new jobs.

An example could be Birmingham City Council’s plans to invest £760million in a green energy initiative to reduce the city’s carbon footprint by 60 per cent by 2026 – and also help kick-start the regional economy by developing ‘green manufacturing’ in the West Midlands. This type of ‘Green Deal’ initiative is being supported by Birmingham City University, a leader in ‘green technology’ and it is hoped the scheme will create 55,000 jobs.

“At the heart of the innovation eco-system is the need to link entrepreneurs into the knowledge economy,” said Mr Hutton, who added. “We need to have the public and private sectors as the early adopter – local government and universities are buyers and early adopters of scale.

“Open innovation would be critical to ensuring knowledge and skills transfers between key growth sectors which included life sciences, design-led manufacturing (dubbed ‘manu-services’ by The Work Foundation), low carbon energy, creative and cultural industries, high technology, caring and servicing.”

Mr Hutton praised Birmingham City University for its leadership in hosting the Idea Birmingham gathering.

The event was chaired by Birmingham City University’s Pro-Chancellor and Deputy Chairman Vic Cocker CBE, and those attending included Jerry Blackett, Chief Executive, Birmingham Chamber of Commerce Group, Dr David Hardman MBE, CEO of Birmingham Science Park Aston and William McGrath, Group CEO of AGA Rangemaster plc.

  • IDEA Birmingham focuses on encouraging entrepreneurial design and innovation across the region
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Beverley Nielsen

Beverley Nielsen

Director of Corporate Affairs at Birmingham City University
Beverley Nielsen

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