Tag Archives: Birmingham

Centro and the Transport Systems Catapult to run Intelligent Mobility incubator within Innovation Birmingham’s £8m iCentrum building

A 2,500 sq ft Intelligent Mobility incubator is the first confirmed quarter of Innovation Birmingham’s Serendip space within the new £8m iCentrum® building.

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.

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.

Fantastic opportunity for start ups and entrepreneurs: the AlphaTalk £20,000 Start Up Scheme

An exciting opportunity has arose for young start-ups, entrepreneurs and people who are looking to start their own business in the IT and Telecoms industry in Birmingham by a local company called AlphaTalk.

AlphaTalk, based in Digbeth are a provider of local area numbers along with VoIP technology. They are supporting entrepreneurs with their £20,000 start-up scheme which includes a fully serviced office amongst executive advice and mentoring, as well as a cash lump sum of £2,500.

For people who want to start their own business this really is an opportunity that isn’t to be missed and can give them a huge kick start in the entrepreneurial world.

If you are interested in applying for this you have until Wednesday 28th January 2015 before applications close. Applications need to be sent to grants@alphatalk.com

For more information about AlphaTalk’s Start Up Scheme, you can find everything here  http://www.alphatalk.com/alphatalks-start-up-scheme-stages and follow @alphaTALKLtd on Twitter for updates.

Finally good luck to anyone who enters!

BBC Birmingham plays host to U18’s Coding Club

YRS BBC Coding Club

Young Rewired State Festival of Code 2014 hailed a success once again, and what’s even better is that several teams from Birmingham were shortlisted in the finals! See more info here  http://festivalofco.de/

BBC Birmingham’s Coding Club will commence again on Saturday 30 August 2014 (last Saturday of the month thereafter). The club runs from 1pm to 4pm and will take place at BBC Birmingham in the Mailbox (B1 1AY).

Coding Club is open to all under-18s with an interest in coding – prior knowledge is helpful but not required.  Coders aged 13 and under must be accompanied by a parent/guardian.

All coders need to bring their own hardware and software – wifi is available.

For more info or to book a place, email codingbrum@bbc.co.uk

Mobilising for Action

Bull Ring at night (Creative Commons www.photoeverywhere.co.uk/)
Bull Ring at night (Creative Commons http://www.photoeverywhere.co.uk/)

The Birmingham Smart City Commission has established a number of thematic working groups, based on discussions with its members, with the aim of establishing a programme of strategic priorities and activity that will support delivery of Birmingham’s Smart City Roadmap. All activity aims to embed the principles of and address the strategic aims set out in the Roadmap:

  • Use of digital technologies and information to increase capacity of existing infrastructure and services
  • A joined up, integrated approach to service delivery across all sectors
  • Release and access to data
  • Citizen involvement, cooperation and citizen focused service delivery

Each working group is chaired by a lead representative from the Smart City Commission who is responsible for progressing the Smart City principles alongside the needs of the sector / area and its membership focused on practical actions that deliver real outcomes.

Working Groups and leads are as follows:

Benchmarking and Progress – Mark Barber, KPMG
Civic Economy – Jas Bains, Ashram Moseley Housing
Education, Skills & Innovation – David Hardman, Innovation Birmingham Ltd
Energy – TBC
Health – Tim Jones, UHB
Mobility – Nick Gregg, Amey
Open and Big Data – Bjorn Birgisson, Aston University

We are holding a meeting at the end of September to bring together the leads above with the Chair of the Commission (Cllr. Lisa Trickett – Cabinet Member – Green, Smart and Sustainable City) to agree the framework and collective vision that will ensure an integrated  approach across the themed areas.

You can read more about the results from the stakeholder analysis, undertaken with the Commission members and supported by Mark Barber from KPMG that helped to inform the development of the working groups and the timeplan for next steps here

Birmingham’s top decision-makers to launch Making a Difference with Data programme on 26 June

Some of the top policy and decision-makers for Birmingham’s public services will be getting together in the city on 26 June to launch Making a Difference with Data – a new programme about the role of data in creating social and economic wellbeing.

The Making a Difference with Data programme is being developed and run by Birmingham-based Boilerhouse Media in collaboration with England’s core cities and is being supported by Digital Birmingham as part of Birmingham’s Smart City Roadmap.

Cllr James McKay,Birmingham City Council Cabinet Member for a Green, Safe and Smart City, who will be opening the event and talking about the central role of data in Birmingham’s plans to become a ‘smart city’ said:

I welcome the Making a Difference with Data programme with its emphasis on communicating the benefits of using data and open data for better decision-making. There needs to be much greater awareness among leaders locally and nationally about the volume and value of data they can access to inform everything they are doing to improve cities, regions and neighbourhoods. This programme will help make that happen.

The launch is an invitation-only event bringing the city’s leaders in health, social care, housing, economic development and policing, together with representatives from transport, education and the third sector.

Speakers who will be presenting their ideas about how data can contribute to improved pubic services, more sustainable economic development and greater citizen involvement in their city and neighbourhoods include:

  • Emer Coleman, data entrepreneur and former deputy director of the Government Digital Service
  • Jas Bains MBE, Chief Executive of Ashram Housing Association
  • Shane O’Neill, chairman, roadworks.org
  • David Frost CBE – First Chairman, LEP Network (event chair)

Birmingham Community Healthcare Trust will be fielding one of their top team to speak, and there will also be presentations on the data programmes at Manchester, Sheffield, and Leeds.

Further information can be found at http://www.madwdata.org.uk and also via @madwdata and the #smartbrum hashtag.


Brummie SME’s – How can #superfast #connectivity help your business?

Basic RGB

Free connection to high speed broadband for eligible Birmingham SMEs – a vital event to help you develop your business

Thursday 10 April 2014

The Council House, Victoria Square, Birmingham

10.30 – 15.00



The Connectivity Voucher Scheme is to help fund a new faster broadband connection for small and medium-sized businesses, charities, social enterprises and other not-for-profit organisations. It is funded by the Government’s Urban Broadband Fund and the European Regional Development Fund.

This is a grant (not a loan so you don’t have to pay it back) to provide affordable solutions that will help you get connected to superfast broadband. Full details of the grant process and the benefits of the connection scheme will be explained at the event but in summary, Digital Birmingham will cover up to £3,000 of the connection costs of superfast broadband for eligible organisations – usually enough to pay for all the work.

  • you will hear from companies who have benefitted from the scheme
  • be able to talk to leading businesses with opportunities for a digitally connected supply chain
  • meet a range of Internet Service Providers who can advise you on the best options and help you choose the best solutions.

Join us at this launch event if you’d like to take advantage of the benefits of operating in a Superconnected City like Birmingham.

Registration is at 10.30 for an 11.00 start. Lunch is served at 12.30. Networking and the exhibition continue until 15.00.

For furtherinformation, please visit http://www.nextgenevents.co.uk/events/birmingham-voucher-launch or register here

Funded by

DCMS        ERDF Logo Landscape Colour JPEG

Birmingham Smart City Commission – Terms of Reference

These are the terms of reference for the Birmingham Smart City Commission
Statement of Ambition 
Birmingham is acknowledged for its industrial heritage and as a powerhouse of the  industrial revolution that was borne out of a dynamic spirit of entrepreneurial collaboration with strong civic leadership to provide for its citizens.
Cities everywhere are now finding themselves challenged on many levels: a slow economy, a growing but also ageing population putting existing services under strain, partly legacy infrastructure that is no longer fit for purpose and rapid technological change that has raised citizen’s expectations about how services are being delivered (e.g. real-time information, instant communication and ‘always on’
society). With these challenges comes the momentum and exciting opportunity to  redefine our city that will secure our sustainability and prosperity for decades to come.
Our ambition is to create a city that can deal with these challenges and address future city needs by:
  • making it adaptable and knowledgeable about itself
  • having the means to assign scarce resources in the most beneficial way
  • creating a future-proof city that is attractive to citizens, business, visitors and investors alike
  • enabling a culture of innovation and collaboration.
Birmingham has started its journey towards addressing many of  these challenges, and is putting in place the governance, infrastructure and enabling activities to establish Birmingham as a leading smart city.
Birmingham is recognised by National Government as a strategic leader in its approach and has been working with BIS and the British Standards Institution (BSI) to shape national policy and create frameworks for smart city implementation. It is working with the Technology Strategy Board, the Catapults and other organisations
to drive innovation and accelerate transformational change within the City. Under the leadership of Councillor McKay, Cabinet Member for Green, Safe and Smart City, we published the Smart City Vision setting out the challenges and the strategic and collaborative approaches the City will take in order to enable Birmingham to stand out as a truly smart city, one that meets its future needs.
A task and finish group was put in place to further develop the vision into a roadmap and action plan. It was recognised that the Commission going forward must demonstrate strong leadership, be outward looking, bring together expertise and strategic thinkers from key fields to direct and deliver the longer term strategic  vision for the city.

Work to Date
In 2012 the City set up a number of advisory bodies / Commissions to help address  issues ranging from climate change, youth employment, social cohesion and  inclusion, health to economic growth opportunities and the development of skills  and enterprise. In line with this, the interim Smart City Commission was set up in
2012, which created the below vision that was published in January 2013 and the full  document can be downloaded from the Digital Birmingham website.


Many of these advisory bodies have already produced their own actions plans for  and it is clear that there are considerable overlaps in the organisations that need to work together, the technologies and the resources required to deliver the outcomes. The Smart City Commission now has the opportunity to play a central role in bringing together these agendas to maximise their potential.
The Smart City Vision sets out the challenges and opportunities for the city and the wider region. Working collaboratively with industry, business, community and academic leaders the Smart City task and finish group has developed the roadmap and action plan to implement the vision.
This roadmap provides the strategic direction for the city across the 3 pillars of People, Place and Economy. It aims to apply and embed smart principles such as cross-sector cooperation, integrating services and use of data and information for decision making into all city activities in order to deliver better outcomes and quality
of life for its citizens.
The Roadmap is a statement of our aspiration to change the city as much as it documents specific actions that we have identified for the short term; it is meant to be a living document that needs to be reviewed and adapted on a regular basis. This will allow us to continually embrace new opportunities as they emerge.

It is important to note that the speed of change in the technology sector is considerable making it difficult to develop detailed plans beyond a 3-year horizon.  However, where activities relate to infrastructure, organisational or behavioural change they may well span a 5-10 year outlook.

The Smart City Commission
The Smart City task and finish group recognised the high importance of local  leadership and active involvement from strategic organisations that make up a city to be represented on the Commission. Working with local leaders and institutions will provide an opportunity to implement the far reaching vision and strategic
approach that will set the wheels in motion for its delivery.

The Commission therefore needs to:

  • Be strategic and independent in its thinking with the ability to influence the strategic direction of the City and enable close cooperation of leaders and experts across key disciplines
  • Provide strong leadership and citywide governance in order to establish a holistic and integrated approach to city wide planning for Birmingham and the wider Greater Birmingham and Solihull region
  • Have the authority and accountability to ensure the delivery of the Smart City Roadmap and Action Plan, monitor its progress and promote its activities locally, nationally and internationally
  • Be aware of and influence of the development of new standards essential to smart city operations for example in areas of interoperability, data, performance and commissioning

Aims of the Commission:

  • Implement the Smart City vision and change how the future city operates
  • Establish the leadership and governance structure for the future city
  • Identify emerging challenges and strategic opportunities for the city and wider region
  • Put in place the drivers and enablers that will provide opportunities for ICT  advancement in the city
  • Create the conditions for attracting and accelerating investment in the city

What the Commission will do:

  • Endorse the roadmap and action plan and ensure they continue to evolve and reflect the need of the city, its citizens and businesses
  • Review and advise on the best use of changing technologies, suitability of existing infrastructure and processes to maximise benefits for citizens and the economy
  • Work with other commissions and create partnerships where appropriate to address synergies and ensure an integrated city approach
  • Liaise, influence and advise on the delivery plans of own and other
  • organisations to secure resources for the delivery of the roadmap and action plan and identify funding and investment opportunities
  • Evaluate results and existing work undertaken in the field

Commission membership:
The commission needs to include local representation from a range of fields (ICT, Health, Environment, Transport, Education, Skills, Economy) to facilitate an understanding of the societal issues in conjunction with technological advancement to deliver the future city vision. As this is an evolving topic, it is important that that a
number of external experts are included to ensure that the City benefits from the latest developments and opportunities.
In addition to the Birmingham Smart City Commission a wider stakeholder group (both internal to BCC and external) will be sought to ensure wider challenge and peer review around the city’s vision and priorities.

These terms of reference can all be downloads in the Smart City Commission Terms of Reference Draft PDF

Smart payments – the way of the future for transport in Birmingham.

Stephenson St Tram. Creative Commons BirminghamNewsRoom
Stephenson St Tram. Creative Commons BirminghamNewsRoom

The Birmingham Mobility Action Plan already outlines the vision for a fully integrated public transport network, where a ‘whole of journey’ pricing and payment mechanism based on travel zones will be available.

At its best such a system will allow travellers to use any mode of transport (train, bus, bicycle or car hire) and will include contactless payment card linked to a personal travel account and through debit or credit cards, mobile phone applications. Traditional payment such as smart card and season passes will still be on offer.

Transport for London’s extension of the Oyster card demonstrates the ease of moving from tube to bus. Since end of 2012 travellers can use the contactless payment card linked to MasterCard, Visa and American Express instead of an Oyster card to pay for bus fares and get the cheaper Oyster tariff.

Enery Efficiency & Aspern waterside village in Vienna

“The Donaustadt district of Vienna, home to the Aspern territory.” Image Credit: Vienna via Wikimedia Commons
“The Donaustadt district of Vienna, home to the Aspern territory.”
Image Credit: Vienna via Wikimedia Commons

As part of the Smart City Roadmap we’ve been looking at ways to improve energy efficiency across the city. One of the ideas was to look at at Urban Districts, how we can improve local energy generation in neighbourhoods and also to improve energy efficiency in our public buildings.

One of the places we found that was already looking at this model as part of their Smart City development was Aspern in Vienna.  This case study is taken straight from the road map document.

The Aspern Smart City Research company was established in October 2013. It will develop a multi-functional urban district of around 240 hectares in the north east of Vienna until 2030.

The plans include the concept for a longterm integrated energyoptimizd district by connecting residential and non-residential buildings to a low voltage distribution network.

Building control systems will manage the energy exchange between buildings and allow building operators to participate in the energy market.

ICT solutions will be used to discover system and infrastructure faults, alert managers to inefficient consumption patterns and identify savings opportunities. Decentralised power renewable power generation and energy storage solutions will play a central part.

If you want to read more about the actions identified for energy efficiency  in Birmingham and have your say, you can find them all here.