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.

Smart City Commission Journey

Follow the journey of Birmingham Smart City Commission through past meeting notes and papers.


Papers / presentations:

  1. East Birmingham Corridor Demonstrator-FCC.SW
  2. Incubator developments and activities-iCentrum Update-DH
  3. Incubator developments and activities-STEAMhouse update-JB
  4. Smart City Commission Governance-Executive and Smart Board for GBSLEP Region-DB.RM
  5. Smart City Commission Governance-Refresh Proposal-DB-v1.0
  6. Birmingham Smart City Activity Tracker 2015-16-14.01.16-v1.2


Papers / presentations:

  1. Data Workshop Update
  2. A Roadmap Framework for East Birmingham
  3. IOT Demonstrator-WM Regional Bid & other DB Bids
  4. Birmingham Smart City Activity Tracker 2015-16-v1
  5. The WMP2020 Blueprint


Papers / presentations:

  1. Future Council Programme
  2. E Birmingham Demonstrator-FCC
  3. Release of data-DB
  4. Open Data-Boilerhouse
  5. Refresh of Smart City Commission-DB
  6. Overview of Bids-DB


Papers / presentations:

  1. Thematic Presentations-Mobility-Amey
  2. Thematic Presentations-Health-Tim Jones
  3. Thematic Presentations-Skills-David Hardman
  4. Eastern Corridor-Spatial Context and challenges-DBLT
  5. Lessons from elsewhere-LD Arup


Papers / presentations:

  1. Discussion Paper_Birmingham Smart City_Effective_Commission_Working_04_11_14 FINAL




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

Smart Cities skype session “Liveable Cities” University of Birmingham

Liveable Cities Skype 7

Dear All,

as part of the “Liveable Cities” research program at the University of Birmingham, we are holding a skype session where I will present some of my PhD research findings on “Smart Cities” for discussion with various stakeholders. There are limited places, yet a few still available for anyone who would like to take part in the discussion. Please email me at or put your details here :

Thank you,

Kind regards

Marianna Cavada

PhD student ‘Smart Cities’

School of Civil Engineering

University of Birmingham

+44 (0) 121 414 3544

+44 (0) 7732 925499

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.

Smart Cities / SmartBrum

“Smart Cities” survey

I have experienced love at first sight with Smart Cities. For the past 18 months into the research I have read, searched and analysed most of the published material on Smartness. I feel strong that Smart Cities are and should be about People. I am at the stage of experiencing directly what others think about Smart Cities, through an online survey and interviews.

I am also working on a tool, that will be accessible, transparent and changing according to what people need to make their city Smart or Smart-er. The results of the surveys and interviews will be a good addition for the Smart Cities tool. For this purpose I need people that are also excited about their own initiative, those that are involved in local start-ups at the city of Birmingham to tell me (by completing the survey) what they think and most importantly, what they want Smart Cities to be.

After the survey is completed, I will analyse the results and adjust the Smart Cities tool. This will be my PhD thesis, aimed to share the outcomes for Smart(er) Birmingham. Please see below the ethical approval text from the University Of Birmingham. Also, please find our contact details, in case you would like to find out a bit more!

I am a PhD student, at the University of Birmingham, conducting a study examining Smart Cities in order to develop a resilient assessment framework, working along my supervisors, Professor Chris Rogers and Dr Dexter Hunt. The research is supported by the Engineering and Physical Science Research Council and is part of a larger research program, Liveable Cities (

Survey :

I am interested in your opinions on the matter and you have been selected to take part to this survey because of your (profession, knowledge, interest) to the subject of Smart cities. The questionnaire is a 17 questions survey, divided in themes and takes about five minutes to complete. The results are confidential and anonymous (please do not include your name) and will be published in my PhD thesis (completion date February 2017). Your participation will contribute to a better understanding of the Smart cities context and resilient assessment framework, with Birmingham as a case study.

If you have any questions about the research project or require further information you may contact one of my supervisors or me:

Supervisor: Professor Rogers ( Principal Investigator Telephone +44 (0) 121 414 5066 Email School of Civil Engineering University of Birmingham Edgbaston Birmingham B15 2TT

Supervisor: Dr Dexter Hunt ( Researcher Co-investigator University of Birmingham Telephone +44 (0) 0121 414 3544 School of Civil Engineering University of Birmingham
Edgbaston Birmingham B15 2TT

Student Researcher: Marianna Cavada ( PhD student University of Birmingham Telephone +44 (0) 7732 925499 School of Civil Engineering University of Birmingham Edgbaston Birmingham B15 2TT

If you agree to participate, click on the following link . I would very much appreciate your prompt response

Kind regards

Marianna Cavada PhD student “Smart Cities” School of Civil Engineering University of Birmingham +44 (0) 121 414 3544 +44 (0) 7732 925499

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…

A place to share ideas and developments for a Smarter Birmingham