Innovation Birmingham runs UK-wide competition to discover the brightest clean-tech talent

Innovation Birmingham has hosted the UK heat of the European-wide ClimateLaunchpad competition, where the eventual winners and two runners up will collectively receive €17,500 to develop their clean-tech products/services. The competition is one of the initiatives being run by Innovation Birmingham’s Climate-KIC team.

The competition entrants for the UK heat were located across the country. Oxford-based IonQube, whose business is based on recycling batteries into long-lasting battery systems, has come out as the overall winner of ClimateLaunchpad UK. The company, which is devising systems that are ideal for developing countries where battery packs are not fit for use, will now progress to the European-wide final on 4th September in Amsterdam.

IonQube will be joined by the UK joint runners-up; Worcestershire-based Littewood and London-based OpenWatt. Littewood has developed an in-shower heat recovery system, while OpenWatt has developed an ‘internet of things’ smart-plug to enable the rapid integration of legacy equipment into 21st Century electricity networks.

ClimateLaunchpad is Europe’s largest clean-tech business idea competition. The UK is one of 28 countries taking part, along with Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Moldova, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and The Netherlands. As well as the cash prize, the winner of the European final, which is held annually, will also receive a place on Climate-KIC’s Accelerator programme.

Catherine Shelley, Innovation Birmingham’s Climate KIC Programme Development and Delivery Officer said: “Many of the innovative concepts that entered the ClimateLaunchpad competition at the beginning of the process have made genuinely impressive progress with developing their products, plans for reaching the mass market and the quality of their pitching. We are confident that IonQube, Littewood and OpenWatt will do the UK proud in the final, and I really hope that all entrants keep developing their ideas.”

ClimateLaunchPad is a Climate Knowledge Innovation Community (Climate KIC) project, which Innovation Birmingham is a delivery partner for. Climate KIC is the EU’s main climate innovation initiative, and was one of the first Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KICs) created by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) in 2010. The EIT is the European Union body tasked with creating sustainable European growth and jobs while dealing with the global challenges of our time.

Six new tech start-ups join Innovation Birmingham’s Entrepreneurs for the Future programme

Six new tech start-ups have enrolled on Innovation Birmingham’s Entrepreneurs for the Future programme. Since the launch of the programme in November 2009, 111 start-ups have been created, with over £7.8 million of investment secured during initial funding rounds.

Entrepreneurs for the Future is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). To date, close to 200 new employee and director positions have been created. The latest new tech ventures are: Borroclub.co.uk, which is an online platform that enables people to borrow household items from others living close by; Eye Tracking Analysts, which is undertaking research and development on innovations in eye tracking; Hopper, which enables marketers to schedule posts on Instagram; Language Garden, which creates online interactive materials to teach literacy and languages; Stride Education, which is developing a 3D learning system; and Voltrics, which is undergoing product design and innovation in electronics.

The six new start-ups will receive up to nine months office space, telecoms, meeting rooms and superfast broadband at the Innovation Birmingham Campus. In addition, they will benefit from structured mentoring from the Entrepreneurs in Residence, regular visiting expert sessions, a series of workshops and events, networking opportunities and peer-to-peer support. All of this support comes for free; Innovation Birmingham does not take an equity stake in the start-up businesses, as enrolment onto the Entrepreneurs for the Future programme is part-funded by an ERDF grant.

Dr David Hardman MBE, CEO of Innovation Birmingham said: “The continued growth of the Entrepreneurs for the Future programme is driving the success of the Innovation Birmingham Campus. Our new iCentrum tech incubation centre will be open for business in March 2016, which will enable us to deliver much more activity and provide state of the art space for new and growing tech businesses.

“Launching a new business in a sector specific incubation centre ensures it has a much better chance of succeeding and becoming commercially viable. We have a full-time team working in the centre, together with the three Entrepreneurs in Residence, who guide, drive, motivate and facilitate connections for the start-ups, to ensure they become investment-ready and/or revenue generating in as short a time as possible. “

Mike Bandar, Co-founder of Hopper said: “Developing a new business can be a tough and testing time. At the Innovation Birmingham Campus, everyone is either launching or growing a tech company, so the atmosphere and peer to peer support is fantastic. Opportunities naturally emerge to collaborate on projects and get instant feedback on ideas.

“The structured aspects of the Entrepreneurs for the Future programme, such as the regular sessions with our Entrepreneur in Residence, are also a really valuable way of ensuring all the right opportunities are maximised and nothing crucial is missed. During every session, new contacts and ideas are formulated.”

Innovation Birmingham has designed its tech incubation programme in order to capture serial entrepreneurs, who as individuals are working on more than one project concurrently. The Innovation Birmingham Campus is open 24/7, enabling people to work flexibly, or cram in the hours when needed.

For more information on Entrepreneurs for the Future, please visit www.e4f.com

‘What data would you like to see open?’ asks Bham City Council

Birmingham Speaks LogoAs part of Birmingham City Council’s ongoing commitment to open data and to make it available via the Birmingham Open Data Factory https://data.birmingham.gov.uk/ – they have issued a call to gather the public’s thoughts and suggestions on types of data they would like the council to make available. This could be data the council currently holds but not yet published openly or data they would like to see ‘open’ in the future.

Note suggestions and join in the conversations here http://bit.ly/BrumDialogue

GBSLEP awards Innovation Birmingham a £2.49m Local Growth Fund grant to create a new centre for SMEs to engage with the city’s five universities

A purpose-designed centre to make it easy for SMEs to engage with Birmingham’s five universities will be developed on land within Innovation Birmingham’s Faraday Wharf site.

The Greater Birmingham & Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GBSLEP) has awarded a £2.494m Local Growth Fund grant for the capital project. Subject to planning, the new facility will be open in 2016. The universities centre is the second of five new developments totalling £45million planned on the Innovation Birmingham Campus, which is visible from the A38M Aston Expressway. The first – iCentrum® – is a 3,874sqm (41,700 sq ft) technology incubation and collaboration building, which will open in March 2016.

The universities centre will be designed by AHR Architects’ national technology team and delivered by Midlands headquartered Thomas Vale Construction Ltd, a Bouygues UK company. A planning application will be lodged this summer. The centre will feature state-of-the-art video conferencing, offices, training and meeting space, co-working and collaboration space. The centre will be designed and operated to promote a much greater interaction between start-ups and SMEs (less than 250 employees) and the city’s five universities. International evidence suggests that true connectivity and communication between universities and business can add 8-10 per cent in increased, sustained growth.

Andy Street, Chairman of the GBSLEP said: “Having a dedicated, neutral centre where SMEs and researchers, staff and students from the five local universities can meet and collaborate on projects will be a new asset for the city region. Innovation Birmingham will work with Aston University, the University of Birmingham, Birmingham City University, Newman University and University College Birmingham to drive activity that will resonate with SMEs.

“The technology and digital sector is one of the GBSLEP’s target growth areas, and this £2.94m Local Growth Fund grant award will lead to many new relationships and projects being forged year on year, which will contribute to the regional economy.

Dr David Hardman MBE, CEO of Innovation Birmingham said: “Having a dedicated centre for university engagement on the Innovation Birmingham Campus will give the city region a catalyst facility, creating a novel edge in how we can help to support start-ups and growing SME businesses. While universities already run a range of initiatives to engage with business, we will coordinate a bespoke programme that will enable SMEs that have never thought of collaborating with a university to see how it could add value.

“We are working on submitting a planning application for the new centre this summer and hope to start construction later this year. That will mean only a matter of months after iCentrum® opens in March, we will be able to open another new facility, gathering real momentum for the £45m expansion of the Innovation Birmingham Campus.”

iCentrum®, which has been under construction since January, is being funded through a £7.5m commercial loan, agreed with Birmingham City Council, to cover the main construction and fit-out costs. In addition, Innovation Birmingham secured funding from the GBSLEP’s Enterprise Zone’s Site Development and Access Fund to create additional co-working space in the new building. iCentrum® will provide space for 400 high-value skilled tech jobs at any one time, generating £25 million of GVA to the local economy per annum. The building was one of the first to start on site within the GBSLEP’s Enterprise Zone, which features 30 sites within central Birmingham.

The Innovation Birmingham Campus is currently fully let with an extensive waiting list for space from new and growing tech businesses. Significant investment has ensured its 110 technology tenants can already access 30Gbit/s broadband speeds – equalling the fastest internet connection available anywhere in the UK.

Digital Summer School – 24 and 25 June

Digital Academy Summer School

Businesses across the West Midlands are being urged to sign up for a free two-day ‘Summer School’ to help them embrace the opportunities offered by digital technology.

Delegates will be able to attend a series of hands-on workshops around the themes of Data, Marketing and Growth with industry experts from some of the biggest names in the sector on hand to help them overcome their technology challenges.

The event, which takes place at Fazeley Studios and the Custard Factory in Digbeth on June 24 and 25, is open to SMEs from across the West Midlands who trade with other businesses and delegates who complete the two days will receive a Graduate Certificate’ from the Greater Birmingham Digital Academy.

The Greater Birmingham Digital Academy and Summer School are supported by the Greater Birmingham Local Enterprise Partnership and the ERDF.

To register for the event go to www.gbda.org.uk

FIWARE Accelerator Event – Smart Cities

suritasolanki:

A great event last month which brought together local SME’s and EU Fiware Accelerator programmes to discuss and learn about Fiware funding opportunities.
Catch Digital Birmingham’s Raj Mack talking about the Birmingham’s tech scene and smart city developments here https://youtu.be/cUOUDs2znFg

Originally posted on FI-STAR 'enabling tomorrow's healthcare':

Wednesday 13th of May, saw FIWARE and the Future Internet roll in to Birmingham.

Innovation Birmingham played host to a Future Internet event designed to foster and improve the ICT sector in Europe, through demonstrating to local businesses and those from farther afield how they can benefit from the EU funded FIWARE Accelerate programmes.

View original 128 more words

A fair for Creative Citizens in Birmingham.

(This was first published over on the Podnosh site)

Click on the image to book on the eventbrite page
Click on the image to book on the eventbrite page

Creative Citizens is a project that’s been running for a couple of years bringing together research and activity around hyperlocal websites and active citizens. There’s some fine people involved, including Dave Harte (an old friend and collaborator of ours) and one of the researchers has also been investigating motivations behind the brilliant WV11 blog run by our own Steph Clarke and her very fine husband James.

So there is going to be a fair for active citizens and creative citizens organised as part of this programme. To get a free ticker go here www.creativecitizensfair.eventbrite.co.uk.

What to expect? Organiser Jez Turner says :

Thousands of citizens in the UK take part in community projects every day, from citizen journalists to breadmaking collectives, cycling social enterprises to craft makers. If you run a community project, are thinking of starting one, or are just interested in meeting like-minded people, join us at the first Creative Citizens Fair.

Talks will run throughout the day from community and voluntary projects, sharing their experience and tips, with plenty of time for questions.

In the Fair space you can:

  • talk to some of the organisations
  • take part in activities and workshops
  • see the Creative Citizens photo exhibition
  • find people to collaborate with
  • find out about the Creative Citizens research project
  • grab some lunch and coffee

More details at www.creativecitizens.co.uk

The venue is the Impact Hub in Digbeth, which is another home for creative citizens.

The Birmingham Smart City Alliance May Steering Group meeting: digital leadership, choices for healthy lifestyles, a new Smart Cities demonstrator and the importance of personal data

(Moseley farmers' market in full swing. Can technology and "smart" thinking contribute to Birmingham's food culture?)
(Moseley farmers’ market in full swing. Can technology and “smart” thinking contribute to Birmingham’s food culture?)

May’s steering group meeting of the Birmingham Smart City Alliance, held in Baskerville House thanks to the generous hospitality of Birmingham Science City, was an energetic meeting that welcomed four exciting new initiatives in the West Midlands.

A neighbourhood scale Smart City demonstrator

Digital Birmingham described a new neighbourhood-scale Smart City demonstrator project that is being put together with local and national stakeholders under the guidance of the Smart City Commission. The project will tackle issues including sustainable passenger and freight travel; citizen engagement; health and wellbeing; civic enterprise; and digital skills. The next shaping workshop for the project will be held on 2nd June. Please contact Digital Birmingham for more details, or make contact with the Alliance by commenting on this blog or through the Alliance’s Linked In group.

Digital Leadership

We discussed a new “Digital Leaders” programme  for individuals and organisations across the UK involved in delivering sustainable and innovative digital transformation. The programme is intended to promote digital expertise and the adoption of technology, and is led by Cabinet Office. An Alliance member is taking a national role to support the  programme and looking for collaborators to support it in the West Midlands. For more details, make contact with the Alliance by commenting on this blog or through the Alliance’s Linked In group.

Supporting Healthier Food Preferences

We also learned about “Supporting Healthier Food Preferences“, a new healthy eating initiative supported by “The Lancet” medical journal, intended to tackle obesity in Birmingham, including child obesity, and issues such as the saturation of many shopping centres by fast food outlets. The initiative will ask what business is prepared to contribute towards the healthy eating agenda; and what the public sector is prepared to contribute.

The fast food market has grown across the country – aided by online services such as “Just Eat” – but many local authorities are seeking to restrict them. Birmingham currently limits “fast food” usage of retail space to 10%, whilst some other authorities limit it to 5%. However, over half of Birmingham’s shopping centres are already saturated with such outlets by this measure, and many others escape these restrictions as they are classified as “restaurants”. In the meantime, child obesity is a growing challenge in Birmingham – 1 in 4 children in Year 6 are overweight or obese, and rising).

So what can we do? We will be holding a workshop to explore ideas. If you would like to join the workshop, please comment on this blog post or through the Alliance’s Linked In discussion group.

Data Citizen Project

Finally, Julia Higginbotham, Chief Executive of Rewired State, asked our help in connecting Birmingham’s institutions, particularly our Universities, to the “Data Citizen Project” Rewired State are running for the Office for National Statistics to understand the motivations and impact of the use of personal data in finance, education, health and travel. The initiative intends to develop a positive narrative for the use of personal data with consent. Again, if you or your organisation has something to add to the initiative, please make contact through the Alliance’s Linked In group or by commenting on this blog.

Our next steering group meeting is on Wednesday 10th June where we’ll be hearing from a new business-led Skills Action Plan for the digital and technology sectors and about InnovateUK’s new £10m “Internet of Things” demonstrator competition.

For more updates from the Birmingham Smart City Alliance, please follow our blog and twitter feed.

Best regards.

Rick Robinson

Chair of the Birmingham Smart City Alliance Steering Group

Net Squared Midlands – global network connecting technology and social impact

Net2M_Brum
Immy Kaur, Impact Hub Birmingham co-founder, speaks to Net Squared Midlands members and guests, May 2015

Net Squared Midlands, the local branch of the global Net Squared network which organises events for anyone interested in the connection of technology and social impact, held its first event in the Midlands at the Impact Hub Birmingham on Wed May 6 2015 as part of the Hub’s launch festival Demo B.

Members and guests heard about Net Squared and its global mission, and the other local branches in the UK. Immy Kaur, Hub co-founder, also gave an insight into how the Hub was started and the success of their crowdfunding campaign.

Local Net Squared Midlands co-organisers, Pauline Roche of social enterprise RnR Organisation from Birmingham and Paul Webster digital connector from Mansfield, gave short talks about some of the work they do around tech for good in the voluntary sector. As well as the pair co-organising the national VCSSCamp unconference for infrastructure organisations, Pauline spoke about open data and her involvement with networks and events Open Mercia, West Midlands Open Data Forum and Open Data Camp while Paul spoke about his work on the LASA Connecting Care project.

Local Birmingham techy members recommended that the organisers publicise Net Squared Midlands on the new Birmingham discussion forum for all techy people Birmingham IO which Pauline has done. Her post there has had 41 views already.

Paul and Pauline explain that whether you are a not for personal profit organisation in the traditional sense, a venture capitalist, a programmer, an individual with a great idea, or a social changemaker, NetSquared Midlands is here to help you make connections and add to the community around innovating for good in the Midlands.

They say that these events are great opportunities to learn what others are trying, see successful projects and platforms, hear about developing technologies, make new friends and collaborate on new projects.

The next event is being planned for September 2015 but in the meantime, members and others are being encouraged to use the Net Squared Midlands meetup page for dialogue and suggestions.

A place to share ideas and developments for a Smarter Birmingham

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