Centro – the region’s public transport co-ordinator – and the Transport Systems Catapult, which is the UK’s innovation centre for Intelligent Mobility, have both signed up as joint partners for the specialist centre. It will launch when iCentrum®, located off the A38M Aston Expressway, opens in March 2016.
The ground-breaking business incubation centre will focus solely on Intelligent Mobility, which uses emerging technologies to enable the smarter, greener and more efficient movement of people and goods. In particular, it will encourage the development of smart phone and other apps that provide real-time information and advice for passengers.
Innovation Birmingham’s business mentors will actively work in the Intelligent Mobility incubator. There will also be mentoring from industry experts, access to open and closed transport data, and exclusive insight into innovation challenges facing the transport industry. Representatives from Centro and the Transport Systems Catapult will have co-working space within the incubator, in order to open doors to the local, national and international Intelligent Mobility marketplaces.
Tech start-ups looking to develop innovative new concepts within the field of Intelligent Mobility – or responding to the innovation challenges – will be offered space in the incubator.
Geoff Inskip, CEO of Centro said: “The concept for an Intelligent Mobility incubator – based here in the West Midlands – was born out of Centro’s ‘New Journey’ initiative, which we launched 12 months ago to harness new technologies for the benefit of passengers. Being at the centre of the UK’s transport network, we are ideally placed to drive new innovation to further improve the passenger experience. We will help entrepreneurs to interpret the vast data sets that can initially appear as a major hurdle, but actually have the potential to revolutionise the public transport marketplace.
“This is a very important new initiative for Centro and we eagerly anticipate the launch of the incubation facility, when the iCentrum building opens next year.”
Centro and the Transport Systems Catapult will act as partners of the Intelligent Mobility incubator for an initial three year term.
Steve Yianni, CEO of the Transport Systems Catapult said: “Innovation Birmingham has an exemplary record for attracting and developing tech start-ups. By launching a new incubation centre dedicated to Intelligent Mobility within the Innovation Birmingham Campus, disruptive innovation will result. This represents an important step in our long-term aim of helping UK-based businesses to capture a large share of the emerging new Intelligent Mobility market.
“We look forward to the partnership with Centro through this initiative, which will help technology-based start-ups to develop and prosper.”
The Intelligent Mobility incubator will be located on the first floor of the 3,874sqm (41,700 sq ft) iCentrum® building. The three remaining sector-specific quarters are Energy, Internet of Things and Digital Health. Innovation Birmingham is in the advanced stages of discussions with a number of potential commercial partners aligned to these sectors.
The whole 10,000 sq ft first floor of iCentrum® will be known as Serendip, with the ethos behind the space being to harness the power of serendipity and encourage the development of ideas between the four quarters. To complement Serendip, there will be state-of-the-art event and meet-up space on the ground floor for 500 people. The top floor of iCentrum® will house office suites for growing tech companies.
Dr David Hardman MBE, CEO of Innovation Birmingham said: “Construction work started on iCentrum® in January and is on schedule to complete on time and on budget in March 2016. It is being developed and funded speculatively as a tech incubator for the generation that is growing up with social media, 3D printing and cloud-based business solutions.
“Sitting at the heart of the new building will be Serendip; a 10,000 sq ft incubation centre purpose-designed to nurture relationships between corporate executives and entrepreneurs. I am delighted that the first quarter can be announced eight months before the building is open. This is a hugely confident statement about Birmingham’s Smart City ambitions.”
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. iCentrum is the first building under construction within Innovation Birmingham’s £45m development zone.