Tag Archives: Bham City University

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.

Debate: how technology skills can support a carer

Last Tuesday (18/3),  Digital Birmingham together with its UK Discover partners – Bham City University, Dundalk Institute of Technology , Health, Design & Technology Institute (HDTI) and The Open University held an event to spark dialogue about digital and ict related training for formal and informal carers, how new technologies and the use of technology can support them in their lives as a carer as well as those they care for.

There was a great mix of people in the audience, from carers (formal and non formal) to carer support agencies to health and care providers to skills agencies to Universities to training providers which encouraged an dialogue about the imorertance of it skills in this day and age.

With Bob Gann, from NHS England chairing, the event kicked off with its first presentation from Verina Waights (Discover PartnerOpen University) who spoke about the Discover EU project  (www.discover4carers.eu) and the benefits of digital skills to carers.

Madeleine Starr MBE of Carers UK then went on to speak about the key roles of technology in a caring environment bringing to light that even tech savvy people are not aware of how technology can support them as well as those that they care for. She also emphasised that statutory and private services need to adopt technoloigies and change skills of whole workforce to promote tech. View Madeleine’s presentation here

Matthew Kemp of Midland Heart went through a care plan for an older person outlining all possible interactions between family, friends, care authorites, NHS etc by way of a cleverly designed ‘web of care (or despair)’. He then went on to explain the 10 recommendations from the User and market analysis report: Planning and co-ordination of informal and formal care for older people (this will be made availaible shortly – currently pending final checks and signoff). View Matthew’s presentation here

A research study piece by Midland Heart and commissioned by Birmingham City Council through part funding from ERDF and Carillion, explores the relationship between care and technology capturing the challenges faced by informal and formal carers in managing care planning and coordination. Read the full report here

Nigel Wynne of Birmingham City University (Discover Partner) spoke the importance of embedding digi skills and technology in care  followed by a showcase of the Discover e-learning  platform (email discover@birmingham.gov.uk if you’d like to trial this for yourself or for carers in your organisation).

Robin Vickers of Digital Life Sciences went on to speak about about exisitng technology enabled care tools (DALLAS programme) and what the future of digital healthcare will look like with the emphasis of the user at the heart of their health/caring journey.

Kevin Campbell-Wright of NIACE gave a presentation about technology and learning, spoke highly of digial champions in organisations and out there in the community to act as mentors to support learners. He also spoke about reluctance to want to use the internet for security (identity theft, online fraud etc) reasons however with the Digital by Default agenda, communities will have no choice but to do things online. View Kevin’s presentation here

Dame Philippa Russell DBE talked about improving lives of carers and the cared for through the use of  telehealth, and smart homes and about the importance of independence and well-being outlined by Norman Lamb MP and then followed on by explaining the challenges she sees; that 2/3 of carers unaware of benefits of assistive technologies; loss of community libraries, where will people go to use a computer and the internet; Digital by Default agenda and that many areas in the UK still do not have decent broadband connections. View Philippa’s presentation here

If you would like more information about the Discover digital skills for carers project, please email birmingham@discover4carers.eu