Category Archives: People

Action needed on digital skills crisis says Committee

The Science and Technology Committee publishes a report warning that the UK risks being left behind if the Government does not take more action to address the digital skills crisis.

Report findings
12.6 million adults in the UK lack basic digital skills; 5.8 million people have never used the internet; only 35% of computer teachers in schools have a relevant degree and 30% of the required number of computer science teachers have not been recruited; and 13% of computer graduates are still unemployed 6 months after leaving university. This digital skills gap is costing the UK economy £63 billion a year in lost GDP.

The gap between digital skills possessed and digital skills needed demonstrates a long-running weakness in the UK’s approach to this crisis. The Committee is calling for:

  • Digital skills to be made one of the core components in all apprenticeships, not just ‘digital apprenticeships’.
    Industry led vocationally-focused digital careers advice in universities.
  • Universities to provide ‘code conversion courses’ to help graduates from non-computer science backgrounds enter the tech sector.
  • After introducing the much needed computer curriculum in schools, the Government to establish a forum for employers to feedback on the continuing development of the curriculum, and Ofsted to include it in its school inspections.
  • A review of the qualifying requirements for ‘shortage occupation’ IT jobs under ‘Tier 2 visas’, to allow SMEs to get critical digital skills from abroad.
  • Apprenticeship scheme processes to be simplified to allow SMEs to participate more easily.

Chair’s comments
Science and Technology Committee Chair, Nicola Blackwood MP said:
“The UK leads Europe on tech, but we need to take concerted action to avoid falling behind. We need to make sure tomorrow’s workforce is leaving school or university with the digital skills that employers need.The Government deserves credit for action taken so far but it needs to go much further and faster. We need action on visas, vocational training and putting digital skills at the heart of modern apprenticeships.

The Government’s long-delayed Digital Strategy must now be published without delay, and it must deliver. The Government has introduce a range of measures to help, particularly by expanding the scale of the apprenticeship programme and introducing a new computer curriculum in schools, but it needs urgently to present a vision and coherent strategy that brings these together.”

Digital strategy

The MPs question why the Government has taken so long to produce the long-promised ‘Digital Strategy’ and call for it to be published without further delay. The Committee warns that the Strategy needs to go further than merely listing cross-government digital activity, but present a vision for the future delivered by collaborative work from all involved—industry, educators and Government.

Download the report here



Innovation Birmingham Campus-based Hopper HQ Ltd has successfully secured a £100,000 grant from the Birmingham Post Growth Fund to contribute towards its £400,000 investment plan.

Launched in August 2015, is the world’s first fully automated scheduling tool for Instagram, enabling users to post content for a specific date and time, similar to popular applications such as Hootsuite and Buffer which enable posts to be scheduled across Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. The user friendly platform has the same extensive range of picture editing tools that are available within the Instagram app, as well as allowing pictures to be uploaded from multiple sources, such as Dropbox, Google Drive and a user’s own files.

The £100,000 grant from the Birmingham Post Growth Fund, in partnership with Bournville College, will be used alongside an additional £300,000 investment from parent company, Turn Partners Ltd, to accelerate the pace of global growth and to support plans to expand the team by 50 per cent during 2016.

Mike Bandar, Co-founder of Turn Partners said: “Just five months since the launch of Hopper, the business has grown considerably and we are now working with hundreds of customers across over 30 countries. The Regional Growth Fund grant will provide vital support and flexibility to help maximise this growth as we continue to build the business and extend our offering to new and existing customers.

“With a phased recruitment programme currently underway, myself and my co-founder, James Vardy, are looking to extend our Birmingham-based team with current vacancies for in-house developers and a full-time CRM Manager. We look forward to speaking with passionate people looking for a new challenge in an exciting start-up with a global reach.”

Hopper offers three standard packages, with bespoke options available to agencies. The Basic package is priced at $8 per month to schedule up to 10 posts for one Instagram account. The Business package is $19 per month for unlimited scheduled posts to one Instagram account. The standard Agency package is $90 per month to schedule unlimited posts for up to seven Instagram accounts, each with an unlimited number of followers.

120 tech start-ups have been incubated by the Entrepreneurs for the Future programme since November 2009, with over £10 million raised in initial investment rounds. Hopper is one of 18 early stage tech companies receiving support from Innovation Birmingham’s ‘e4f Inspire’ programme, which delivers a series of workshops, keynote events, entrepreneur dinners, off-site visits, funded internship/apprenticeship placements, and peer group sessions, in order to accelerate the growth of entrepreneurial tech companies.

For more information on Hopper, please visit



Vanti – an audio, visual and IT systems integrator, based at the Innovation Birmingham Campus – has made 11 appointments during the past 12 months, marking the company’s most successful year of trading.

Vanti has recently appointed Jack Summerfield, Senior Project Engineer; Matthew Nathan, Senior Software Developer/Architect; and James Bayliss, Service Desk and Project Support Analyst; in a year which has seen the company achieve an annual turnover of £2.5 million.

Giles Robinson, John Kernshell, Saffron Edgeworth and Ben Higginson have also joined the team as Installation Engineers, alongside Michael Hicks, Lab and Stores Manager; Thomas Blackwell, Business Development Manager; Danielle Francis, Office Administrator/Marketing and Paul Smith, Commissioning Engineer.

Established in 2006, Vanti is an award-winning audio-visual and IT systems integration and managed services practice, which works with clients to make the most of their existing or new technology. With an average growth of 32 per cent over the last three years, the company now has 23 team members and is on track to achieve an annual turnover of £3 million by 2017. It also has a number of high profile clients including UBM, Tottenham Hotspur, Canary Wharf Group, Library of Birmingham and BSH Appliances, which includes the Bosch, Siemens and Neff brands.

Mike Brooman, CEO of Vanti, said: “As one of the few businesses that pre-build, assemble and test our equipment before installing it on-site, our office and lab facilities at the Innovation Birmingham Campus are integral to ensuring that we continue to grow year-on-year.

“There is a huge gap in the market for us to further extend our services and to improve how businesses currently utilise technology across audio-visual, IT, telecommunications and infrastructure services. We look forward to doing so in the new year, as we continue to further expand our team.”

Dr David Hardman MBE, CEO of Innovation Birmingham, said: “It has been a fantastic year for Vanti and, as one of the first start-ups to be based in the Entrepreneurs for the Future centre, it has been exciting to watch this dynamic business as it continues to go from strength to strength.”

Vanti is one of 15 early-stage companies receiving support from Innovation Birmingham’s e4f Inspire programme, which delivers a series of workshops, keynote events, entrepreneur dinners, off-site visits, funded internship/apprenticeship placements, and peer group sessions, in order to accelerate the growth of entrepreneurial tech companies.

PRESS RELEASE: Bilfinger GVA Head of Offices joins Innovation Birmingham board


Carl Potter, Senior Director and National Head of Offices at leading property advisor Bilfinger GVA, has joined the board of Innovation Birmingham.

The appointment has been made as Innovation Birmingham prepares to open its new iCentrum® building and continue at a pace with the construction of subsequent phases of its £40million development zone, located just off the A38M Aston Expressway.   

Mr Potter, who is based at Bilfinger GVA’s Midlands office in Brindleyplace, Birmingham, is primarily responsible for directing and coordinating the firm’s office agency team which is spread across the company’s 11 UK offices. He has significant experience of working with clients from both the public and private sector, advising on occupational and development strategies, and the implementation of development and regeneration. Specialising in the Science and Technology Park sector, Mr Potter has also been involved in the establishment or growth of a number of Parks across the Midlands, including Coventry University Technology Park, Malvern Hills Science Park and Loughborough University Science and Enterprise Park.

During his 30 year career at Bilfinger GVA, Mr Potter has held a number of positions, as well as being heavily involved in working with the British Council of Offices (BCO).

Dr David Hardman MBE, CEO of Innovation Birmingham said: “Our board members, comprised of leaders from the public and private sector and across a number of key business growth sectors of the knowledge economy, play a vital role in helping Innovation Birmingham to become a catalyst of the city’s innovation agenda, by acting as ambassadors to help drive the city’s entrepreneurial community.

“Carl joins the board at a crucial stage in the expansion of the Innovation Birmingham Campus. His property sector expertise and his extensive experience of Science and Technology Parks will prove invaluable as we continue to develop the physical campus to meet the needs and aspirations of tech leaders, entrepreneurs and growing companies across the region.”

Carl Potter, Senior Director and National Head of Offices at Bilfinger GVA, said: “I am naturally thrilled to join the Innovation Birmingham board. I am looking forward to utilising my experience in the support of this nationally significant Campus as it continues to establish itself as a fourth generation science park, while raising Birmingham’s profile as a leading destination for technology and innovation.”

The Innovation Birmingham Campus is currently fully let with a waiting list for space from new and growing tech businesses. Its 42,149 sq ft (3,881 sq m) iCentrum® building will open in March 2016, delivering office suites from 500 sq ft, alongside the Serendip® incubator which has been designed to harness the power of serendipity and encourage the development of ideas, relevant to the Smart City agenda. It will also include state-of-the-art event and exhibition space on the ground floor for up to 500 people.

For more information please visit

PRESS RELEASE: Women into Construction programme delivered at the Innovation Birmingham Campus


Innovation Birmingham and Thomas Vale have run a joint initiative to encourage local, long-term unemployed women to consider a career in the burgeoning construction industry.

Two Women into Construction events have been held at the Innovation Birmingham Campus during 2015, with the main programme content delivered by Midlands headquartered Thomas Vale, which is part of Bouygues UK. The first event was held at the iCentrum construction site, which Thomas Vale is on track to handover in March 2016. The second event was held at the Innovation Birmingham Campus’ flagship Faraday Wharf building, which included information on the career opportunities available in construction and an inspirational talk from Thomas Vale’s Assistant Site Manager on iCentrum, Maryam Crossan.

Women into Construction is an independent organisation that promotes gender equality by providing bespoke support to women thinking about a career in the construction industry. It also helps contractors by providing a forum for them to train and recruit highly motivated women. The non-profit organisation works with referral agencies, construction colleges and universities to find training and employment opportunities for women. Attendees at the Innovation Birmingham Campus events were referred by South and City College, Job Centre Plus, Midland Heart, Crisis and Stanfords Training.

Charlotte Crossley, Innovation Birmingham’s Head of Operations and Communications, said: “It was great to work with Thomas Vale on this Women into Construction initiative. Being centrally located in Birmingham, the Innovation Birmingham Campus is very accessible, which is a clear benefit to those who are looking to come out of long-term unemployment. In addition to the career opportunities in construction, the events have also provided an opportunity to speak to a new audience about our support programmes for tech start-ups.

Maryam Crossan is a staunch advocate for the construction industry and has been involved with Bouygues UK’s female staff network, Welink UK. She added: “Despite various initiatives to encourage more women into construction jobs, there is still a noticeable gender divide between the number of males and females pursuing skilled, manual careers.

“At Bouygues UK, we’re committed to encouraging more women into the industry and our work with Innovation Birmingham and Women into Construction is key to this. The events provided us with a fantastic opportunity to meet with young, unemployed women living in the local area – most of whom would probably never have considered a career in construction before. We were able to raise awareness of the many potential roles and job opportunities that could be available to them in what, to me, is an exciting industry; as well as talk about future employment opportunities.

“With the completion of iCentrum just a few months away, the attendees also had the opportunity to see a live construction site in motion and find out for themselves what it takes to deliver a building like this on a day to day basis.”

For more information on Women into Construction, please visit:

PRESS RELEASE: Innovation Birmingham expands communications team with PR Manager appointment


Innovation Birmingham has strengthened its communications team with the appointment of Sophie Taylor to PR Manager.

Miss Taylor joins the team from Birmingham-based full service agency, Core and will be based at the Innovation Birmingham Campus. She will be responsible for supporting the wider communications team, delivering internal and external communications for employees, partners, clients, stakeholders and a diverse range of target audiences located regionally, nationally and internationally.

The new appointment has been timed to strengthen the team in the lead-up to Innovation Birmingham’s new iCentrum® building opening in March 2016. The 42,149 sq ft (3,881 sq m) building will include the Serendip® incubator, with the ethos behind the space being to harness the power of serendipity and encourage the development of ideas – relevant to the Smart City agenda –  by promoting interaction. To complement Serendip®, there will be state-of-the-art event and exhibition space on the ground floor for up to 500 people.  The top floor of iCentrum® will house office suites for growing tech companies.

Charlotte Crossley, Head of Operations and Communications, said: “Sophie will be a fantastic asset to the team, as she brings significant experience of social media, blogging and SEO strategy, together with her media relations skills. With our iCentrum® building opening in only a few months’ time, there is much to do to develop and communicate new messaging in order to further enhance the profile of Innovation Birmingham.”

Sophie Taylor, PR Manager, said: “This is an exciting time for tech entrepreneurs and start-ups in Birmingham and I am delighted to be based at the Innovation Birmingham Campus and be able to play a small part in their journey. I am looking forward to getting stuck in and applying my skills and knowledge to support the team moving forward.”

The Innovation Birmingham Campus is currently fully let with a waiting list for space from new and growing tech businesses. Significant investment has ensured its 135 technology tenants can already access 30Gbit/s broadband speeds – equalling the fastest internet connection available anywhere in the UK.

For more information on Innovation Birmingham, please visit

Data Workshop – 15 September 2015@ Impact Hub Birmingham

Presentations from the session are now available below:

Birmingham’s Smart City Commission invited key individuals with a keen interest in all things ‘Data’ and ‘Health’ to their share knowledge and expertise which will be key to enabling Birmingham to become an‘Open by Default’ city.

The work follows on from June’s Smart Commission meeting and the recommendation from Cllr Lisa Trickett for a Data Workshop to shape the development of the Open Data and wider Data agenda of the Birmingham region with a view to producing a briefing paper for wider circulation and adoption.

Smart City Commission Data Workshop
Hierarchy of Data Needs

Hosted by Impact Hub Birmingham and Facilitated by Robin Daniels, Managing Director of Redpill Group, the day included a case study contribution from Atos and Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council/Public Sector partners on their Multi Agency Data Sharing:  Vulnerability Intelligence Project (VIS); and participants were asked to help determine the challenges/pain points, service engagement and data interactions in a ‘Day in the Life’ of an archetype citizen (focusing on the ‘Health of Older People’).

The workshop details can be viewed on Eventbrite.

Please post your comments and perspectives here as we would welcome your input.

Ofcom reveals UK is now a ‘smartphone’ society!

Smartphones have overtaken laptops as the most popular device for getting online, Ofcom research has revealed, with record ownership and use transforming the way we communicate.

Two thirds of people now own a smartphone, using it for nearly two hours every day to browse the internet, access social media, bank and shop online.

Ofcom’s 2015 Communications Market Report finds that a third (33%) of internet users see their smartphone as the most important device for going online, compared to 30% who are still sticking with their laptop. More…

Spica Technologies’ Devicepoint™ is shortlisted for the Cisco BIG Awards

Innovation Birmingham Campus-based start-up Spica Technologies has been selected as a semi-finalist in Cisco’s BIG Awards 2015. The final of the ‘Internet of Things’ focused awards event will be held in London on 22nd October, where the winner will receive a top prize of cash and support worth $220,000. The runners up prizes are worth $110,000.

Spica Technologies’ nomination is for its ‘Devicepoint™ for healthy water’. The start-up is developing the system on Innovation Birmingham’s Low Carbon Accelerator programme, which is part of the European-funded Climate-KIC initiative. Devicepoint™ is a risk management tool to control Legionella, powered by a secured wireless network and low-energy sensors.

Real-time data is transmitted to the Devicepoint™ cloud and the networked solution issues alerts if there are any immediate risks to be addressed. The low-power system also produces detailed reports, identifying any areas of stagnant pipework that need attention.

Paul Collins, CEO of Spica Technologies said: “Devicepoint™ revolutionises how Legionella is monitored and controlled, which is a basic requirement of every commercial premise and public building. Rather than conducting a manual on-site test, our system continually monitors the risks, producing real-time data and alerts when action is required. By constantly monitoring the temperature of sections of pipe work, it provides a vastly superior picture of any likely risks and eliminates the potential for human error from the process.

“It is great news for us that the 2015 Cisco BIG Awards are focused on Internet of Things start-ups. Being selected as a semi-finalist is a huge endorsement of the work we’ve done to date to launch this new solution to the marketplace.”

20 start-ups have been selected as BIG Awards semi-finalists by Cisco. The shortlist includes projects that turn information into actions and present businesses, individuals and countries with new capabilities, richer experiences and increased economic opportunities. The finalists for the Cisco BIG Awards will be announced on 28th September 2015.

Tom Kneen, Head of the British Innovation Gateway (BIG) programme said: “We see pilot projects such as ‘Devicepoint™ for healthy water’ as a new Internet of Things networked solution, which could have tremendous commercial value and disrupt a traditional market.

“By eliminating regular manual testing work, the risk of a water system being contaminated with Legionella is significantly reduced for a fraction of the current typical cost. The benefits of Internet of Things powered systems such as this are numerous in many domestic and work environments, as we move towards a future of Smart Cities.”

For more information about Devicepoint™ click here or email

Scout7 Kick-Off 2015/6 Football Season With Video Content Analysis App

Ahead of the new 2015/16 football season, Scout7 has launched a new video scouting and analysis app within its industry-leading Intelligent Sports Framework (ISF) application, which is being used at 150 professional clubs worldwide.

During the last six months, the Innovation Birmingham Campus-based football technology company, whose clients include Chelsea, Manchester City, Barcelona, Paris SG, Juventus and Borussia Dortmund, has invested heavily in its video content infrastructure. With data centres covering the globe, Scout7 captures over 3,000 professional broadcast matches each month, totalling over three million minutes of new footage a year. It is the industry leader for analysis solutions in the major European football leagues.

Bradford Griffiths, Operations Director for Scout7 said: “During the last 10 years, scouting and analysis departments have expanded considerably at the elite end of professional football.

“These departments operate 24/7 and are under constant pressure to deliver detailed analysis to their club’s senior management. It is our job to support these departments by providing an environment that allows them to manage, review and collaborate on content as a team.”

Sxout7 has worked in close collaboration with Intel to completely upgrade its video processing environment. This has included the adoption of Intel’s Quick Sync Video hardware, allowing football matches to be transcoded in just 15 minutes, four times faster than was previously possible. It also enables the company to deliver video for streaming and download with one parse of the original file, meaning crisp HD content is not compromised through transcoding.

Scout7 also works with the sports data company OptaPro, who provide time-coded match event feeds for every football game played in over 60 leagues and competitions during the season, which are integrated into the match video. The improvements mean that Scout7 can now deliver HD content, with the integrated events, to each client within two hours of the final whistle.

The introduction of the new ISF video analysis app,, ensures that club staff can utilise Scout7’s enhanced video content to optimise their existing scouting processes, using either a desktop or tablet device.

Bradford Griffiths added: “The features we have introduced in our app mean that scouts and analysts can now start their evaluation of matches played on a Saturday afternoon early on in the same evening. So no matter whether they need video to prepare for their team’s next game, or require footage of players being monitored for potential recruitment, they can prepare detailed analysis for senior management faster than ever before.

“What’s more, if content is time-critical, they can share it with colleagues via email who can stream it on-the-go.

“As a company, we are committed to providing our clients with the best professional services available and with we are confident that top flight clubs will be able to further optimise their various scouting and analysis processes into the new season and beyond.”

Key features of the app include an event filter, which allows users to watch key events such as shots, passes and tackles involving a specific player or team in sequence from multiple games, including events for and against. These event clips can be saved as playlists and archived online, or shared via email. also incorporates editing tools that enable users to conduct their own editing of games online, without the need of offline editing software. The app also incorporates match and event playback buttons, which allow users to speed up or slow down the footage as they watch it, in addition to being able to jump to a specific time in the game. As well as the analysis mode, the app also allows games to be watched in a pop-out player, so that games can be watched on various devices in full-screen.