Tag Archives: Innovation Birmingham

PRESS RELEASE: Cloud9 continues success with growth of national account


Innovation Birmingham Campus-based telecommunications provider, Cloud9 has marked an end to another successful year with the growth of one of its largest accounts.

Established in 2013, Cloud9 is a strategic communications supplier which provides bespoke project management services for a wide range of connectivity solutions including infrastructure, fixed line, broadband and mobile.

Cloud9 has doubled its annual turnover in the last 12 months, with further plans to accelerate the current pace of growth with ongoing recruitment scheduled for 2016. The company’s success follows a fantastic year which saw one of its largest accounts, international organic tea and food supplement provider, Pukka Herbs, extend their current contract.

During 2016, Pukka Herbs will be relocating its current multi-site office environment to a single office. Cloud9 will be integral in facilitating this move; providing infrastructure, full mobile and fixed line telecommunication services to support the relocation of the business and its 100 staff.

Stuart Allbut, Operations Director at Cloud9, said: “We are thrilled to continue developing our positive working relationship with Pukka Herbs and supporting them in their relocation to Parkview Office campus.

“It has been another fantastic year for Cloud9 and with more and more companies beginning to demand faster broadband and secure mobile connectivity, we look forward to continuing to work with each client on a case-by-case basis to ensure we meet their individual business needs.

“The Innovation Birmingham Campus and the e4f programme has opened up an array of resources and successfully creates a comprehensive support network in and out of the workplace, providing us with the perfect location in which to successfully operate our business.”

Cloud9 has a number of high profile clients including multi-disciplined property consultancy, CP Bigwood; leading UK construction and regeneration group, Morgan Sindall and car dealership franchises comprising Ford, Kia and Peugeot.

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. Cloud9 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 Cloud9, please visit: https://cloud9.uk.com/

For additional information on the e4f programme, visit: http://e4f.co.uk/

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.

Can Birmingham become a global leader of new transport technologies?

The event, organised by Innovation Birmingham and Transport Systems Catapult brought together speakers from a start-up, major IT company and the public sector, to try and establish whether Birmingham had the potential to become a global leader in new transport technologies.

Over the course of the afternoon, there were several strands of thought on the link between the institutions and characteristics of Birmingham and the wider West Midlands region and its suitability as a ‘living lab’ for new transport technologies.

Birmingham sits at the heart of England, giving it a geographical advantage as a transport hub – and by extension, a logical location to develop a smart, low carbon transport system. Chair of the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GBSLEP) Andy Street highlighted how this could feed into the city region’s ambitions for the HS2 project: not to be “the end of the line”, but the centre. This was not solely about location, but also a challenge to make Birmingham the home of the associated engineering and technological support, research and development that accompanies such a key infrastructure project.

An associated point to location is size: Birmingham is a large city, the largest local authority in Europe: solutions that work here will be applicable to other large conurbations. And as Paul Zanelli, Chief Technology Officer for the Transport Systems Catapult noted, these solutions are as much about identifying what you no longer need to travel for – for example, if high speed internet is regionally available, homeworking (or working in other spaces closer to home) becomes more viable.

Read full blog post here>> 

Connecting to communicate, collaborate and create economic success

Thought piece Dr David J Hardman MBE, CEO, Innovation Birmingham.

A well-documented fact is that cities create economic potential, but not all deliver to the fullest possible extent. In large cities – which by their very nature stimulate ideas and opportunities – individuals with related or complementary objectives become buried in city infrastructure. This limits connections and thwarts delivery of economic growth. The solution is in part visible clustering, or the establishment of knowledge quarters; but too often these fall victim to hype or become sector specific and limit serendipitous opportunity.

External influences on an ecology change the [genetic] diversity therein. In the same way, innovation ecosystems are intrinsically dynamic, subject to technological, socio-economic and political influences. Growth stimulation strategies often focus on single issues – key sectors, business support, skills and/or access to finance.  All are issues in their own right, but in reality they are components of a complex ecology across the city region; strengthen one component in isolation and the factor limiting successful growth just shifts elsewhere.

City-based support interventions needs to be considered as part of a connected web of activity – not a single linear intervention – and delivery must be achieved in a sustainable, additive and supportive manner that can move to reflect prevailing needs.

In the past, city economies were driven by local supply chains comprised of small and micro-businesses. Today too, the vast majority of businesses are micro or small; but especially in the knowledge economies. Supply chains are no longer local – like their markets, they are global. This means the types of connectivity have also changed.

We talk about smart cities; they need to be connected cities – connected internally and externally. As the importance of data as a commodity grows, sector boundaries become blurred. Opportunities derived from the application of data spread cross-sector and such horizontal approaches yield real and unique scope.

Cities generate data and the innovation community needs to be free to derive new and novel products and services. We pay tribute to the importance of entrepreneurs in terms of enterprise development, but are city administrators creating the fertile data rich environments – sufficiently free of red tape – to truly enable smart economic development?


A smart city is a city engaged with its citizens. To achieve this, innovation needs to be driven from the ground up – not top down; which will always limit outcomes through lack of ‘2020 vision’, or a crystal ball. New ideas and business concepts need to be connected into the innovation ecology, as well as to an environment and holistic services that meet local business needs. These need to be defined and supplied by groups that actively understand the clients, are intimately engaged with local economies, and can create complete innovation ecologies.

This is not about PR hype and coffee-shop discussions about entrepreneurship. It is about real and sustained connected support infrastructures that generate connectivity and catalyse communication and collaboration. More interconnected focal points need to be provided where like-minded creatives can access the sources of data, the skills and expertise to drive innovative new products and services, without unnecessary limitations on their potential.