Category Archives: Skills & Employment

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



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

Innovation Birmingham’s Women in Tech Event

The Innovation Birmingham Campus welcomed 100 members to its Women In Tech event. The event brought together female tech entrepreneurs, coders, programmers and digital media specialists.

Four leaders in their field delivered presentations about their experiences of working in the tech industry. Jessica Rose, self-taught programmer and technical writing specialist, spoke about the need for increased gender diversity within the tech industry to facilitate efficiency and creativity within tech businesses. Sonu Bubna, Co-Founder of Owned It, gave a very honest and inspiring presentation on her perspective on life after moving from the world of corporate finance to becoming an entrepreneur. Florence Okoye, UX Developer, National Grid spoke on the intersection of personal motivation and how that drives technology engagement, reiterating the benefits of developing applications driven by your own self-interest. Faye Pressly, Associate Director, Mortimer Spinks delivered an eye opening review of the findings of their Women in Technology 2015 report. The event was hosted by technology and health enthusiast Mary Matthews, Founding Director of Memrica, an application which helps to improve the lives of those living with dementia.

The event was organised by Michelle Rayner, Innovation Birmingham’s Entrepreneurs for the Future Programme Manager. The refreshments were provided by Mortimer Spinks, the UK’s leading innovator in technology recruitment.

Gosia Borzecka. Tobias Koprowski. Rupi Dosanja - Cotidia
Gosia Borzecka – Developer. Tobias Koprowski – Developer. Rupi Dosanja – Cotidia.
Donna Parchment. Trevor Cornbill - Techinsure. Cleo Morris - MarketingMaker
Donna Parchment – MGDP Consulting. Trevor Cornbill – Techinsure. Cleo Morris – MarketingMaker.
Naomi Edge-SocialSignin. Melinda Marsh-Connect Group. Grace Ngolet. Clare Stevenson - Burley Law
Naomi Edge-SocialSignin. Melinda Marsh-Connect Group. Grace Ngolet. Clare Stevenson – Burley Law.
Florence Okoye. Jessica Rose - Yotta. Pauline Roche - RnR Organisation
Florence Okoye. Jessica Rose – Yotta. Pauline Roche – RnR Organisation.

To view all the photos from the event click here


Majestic launches new app which generates influence ratings for all Twitter handles

MajesticInnovation Birmingham Campus’ largest tenant – is launching a new Android app that will generate influence ratings for all Twitter handles. The ground-breaking app provides instant influence ratings based on 800 topics, when scrolling through a Twitter newsfeed.

Majestic – the developer of the largest global commercially available website link index – has created the new app to give Twitter users instant data on the influence of all Tweeters appearing in their newsfeed, or as a result of a key word or hashtag search. The automatically generated Majestic ‘Topical Trust Flow’ score is based on the quantity and quality of the weblinks to each Twitter handle.

Majestic is launching the new app in Beta form to make way for further development and functionality. The app will be free of charge to the thousands of Majestic account holders located worldwide. Subscription packages for new customers start from £30 + VAT per month.

Dixon Jones, Marketing Director of Majestic said: “The majority of our customers regard Twitter as a vital information tool, with many increasingly relying on it as a principle route to market. By instantly gauging how influential each account is – while scrolling through the latest Tweets in a newsfeed or search results – our new app will ensure key Tweets aren’t unknowingly overlooked. This will be particularly useful when looking to build up a higher base of followers and interact with established Twitter influencers.

“When using the Majestic Twitter app, it will be apparent if a user has seemingly boosted their account by acquiring fake followers. The app will also display information on the topics that a selected Twitter handle is most influential in. In a nutshell, this groundbreaking app will provide a wealth of instant intel while using Twitter. It will enable engagement with influencers, not interlopers.”

Majestic’s specialist search engine categorises the entire World Wide Web, eradicating the need for manually categorised website directories. Its purpose-designed technology continuously crawls the web in order to map links between websites. Over seven hundred billion web pages – including all Twitter accounts – are filtered into 800 topics to enable easy analysis and comparison. Majestic’s automatic Trust Flow scores then provide rankings based on the quality and quantity of relevant links to a web page or Twitter account.

Majestic’s retained clients include some of the best known international technology brands. Its search engine is multi-lingual and enables analysis of the web to be fully automated. For organisations that want to boost their own web presence, it provides clear results as to which sites are more influential to have backlinks from, without actually needing to view any web pages.

Majestic came second in the Midlands – and 17th overall – in the Deloitte Fast 50 awards programme, held in November 2014, ranking higher than, Just Eat plc and Sky Scanner. In five years, the web index creator’s turnover has grown by 1,571 per cent. Having been based at the Innovation Birmingham Campus since its inception, Majestic has recently expanded the size of its office to over 3,000 sq ft, to accommodate its growing team of 20 and its suite of servers.

For more information, visit

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.

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