Tag Archives: Innovation

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.

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.

Six new tech start-ups join Innovation Birmingham’s Entrepreneurs for the Future programme

Six new tech start-ups have enrolled on Innovation Birmingham’s Entrepreneurs for the Future programme. Since the launch of the programme in November 2009, 111 start-ups have been created, with over £7.8 million of investment secured during initial funding rounds.

Entrepreneurs for the Future is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). To date, close to 200 new employee and director positions have been created. The latest new tech ventures are: Borroclub.co.uk, which is an online platform that enables people to borrow household items from others living close by; Eye Tracking Analysts, which is undertaking research and development on innovations in eye tracking; Hopper, which enables marketers to schedule posts on Instagram; Language Garden, which creates online interactive materials to teach literacy and languages; Stride Education, which is developing a 3D learning system; and Voltrics, which is undergoing product design and innovation in electronics.

The six new start-ups will receive up to nine months office space, telecoms, meeting rooms and superfast broadband at the Innovation Birmingham Campus. In addition, they will benefit from structured mentoring from the Entrepreneurs in Residence, regular visiting expert sessions, a series of workshops and events, networking opportunities and peer-to-peer support. All of this support comes for free; Innovation Birmingham does not take an equity stake in the start-up businesses, as enrolment onto the Entrepreneurs for the Future programme is part-funded by an ERDF grant.

Dr David Hardman MBE, CEO of Innovation Birmingham said: “The continued growth of the Entrepreneurs for the Future programme is driving the success of the Innovation Birmingham Campus. Our new iCentrum tech incubation centre will be open for business in March 2016, which will enable us to deliver much more activity and provide state of the art space for new and growing tech businesses.

“Launching a new business in a sector specific incubation centre ensures it has a much better chance of succeeding and becoming commercially viable. We have a full-time team working in the centre, together with the three Entrepreneurs in Residence, who guide, drive, motivate and facilitate connections for the start-ups, to ensure they become investment-ready and/or revenue generating in as short a time as possible. “

Mike Bandar, Co-founder of Hopper said: “Developing a new business can be a tough and testing time. At the Innovation Birmingham Campus, everyone is either launching or growing a tech company, so the atmosphere and peer to peer support is fantastic. Opportunities naturally emerge to collaborate on projects and get instant feedback on ideas.

“The structured aspects of the Entrepreneurs for the Future programme, such as the regular sessions with our Entrepreneur in Residence, are also a really valuable way of ensuring all the right opportunities are maximised and nothing crucial is missed. During every session, new contacts and ideas are formulated.”

Innovation Birmingham has designed its tech incubation programme in order to capture serial entrepreneurs, who as individuals are working on more than one project concurrently. The Innovation Birmingham Campus is open 24/7, enabling people to work flexibly, or cram in the hours when needed.

For more information on Entrepreneurs for the Future, please visit www.e4f.com

FIWARE Accelerate – €80M of funding and support available


Digital Birmingham are supporting and co-organising the EU FIWARE Accelerator Birmingham event on 13 May 2015. This is part of a roadshow of events taking place across the country where 5 accelerators will present details of their next call and run through how businesses can apply. There is a total fund of 80 million Euros up for grabs for successful SME’s to design applications based on FIWARE technology. The 5 accelerator programmes providing funding and business support are:

  1.  FINODEX: the open data accelerator
  2. CREATIFI: projects on creative industries
  3. FABULOUS: 3D-printing technologies
  4. SOUL-FI: ideas for improving urban life
  5. FIC3: smart territories, health and contents

Further details and how to register are below:

Date: Wednesday 13 May 2015

Time: 9:00 – 13.30

Where: Faraday Wharf, Innovation Birmingham


Join us and inform those that could benefit from this incredible amount of funding available to start-ups and SME’s in this region.

Transforming Care – Call for Participation

International Congress: Transforming Care – London February 2015
ICT and digital, citizen centric solutions for better care provision

On 24 February 2015, the International Congress – Transforming Care is being held at De Vere Venues – Holborn Bars, in London, UK. This is bringing together health and care professionals, practitioners, carer organisations, policy makers and academia to discuss and further advance the uptake and innovative use of digital technologies to enhance care provision and support services for carers and the leaders who will redefine health, wellbeing and care systems.


It will share findings and results from the European (CIP-ICT-PSP) project DISCOVER that is challenging existing practices to create accessible learning solutions for carers and care workers to improve care provision through unique training methodologies and use of ICT solutions.

The Congress will include Ministerial address, high profile speakers from across Europe and a range of interactive and participative sessions providing the platform for discussion and debate to exchange ideas and discuss concrete solutions to improve and deliver the best possible digital inclusion and services for carers as well as share lessons from successes and failures across the wider care sector and international activity.

As part of this event, we are also inviting short position papers and posters proposals describing initiatives undertaken to advance the use of digital technologies to support care provision and services including training in ‘skills for home care’ and ‘connected care’. There is also the opportunity for organisations with innovative products and services to participate in the digital showcase

For more information about the event and call, please visit http://bit.ly/Transformingcare or download the information leaflet here

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

Innovation Birmingham Campus-based Majestic SEO launches new product to categorise the web

Innovation Birmingham Campus-based Majestic SEO has launched a groundbreaking specialist search engine to categorise the entire World Wide Web. Called ‘Topical Trust Flow’, the innovation has been seven years in the making and is the first of its kind to eradicate the need for manually categorised website directories.

Topical Trust Flow categorises over seven hundred billion web pages – including all Twitter accounts – into 800 topics to enable easy analysis and comparison. Trust Flow scores are also provided, where higher rankings are achieved by having links directly relevant to a web page.

The new 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 link to, without actually viewing any web pages.  Finding appropriate content can be carried out with laser-like precision.

Read full press release here>>
o find out more about being based or having an office at Innovation Birmingham Campus see here>>

Women in Tech

The Innovation Birmingham Campus welcomed 60 females to its inaugural 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. Jodie Cole spoke about the reasons why she co-founded Clever Tykes; a series of children’s storybooks, which introduce children to entrepreneurial and tech skills from a young age. Jessica Rose from Innovation Birmingham Campus-based global search engine specialist Majestic SEO delivered a presentation about developing programming skills in order to further her career. Helana Santos, Lead Programmer at digital gaming company Modern Dream, focused her talk on on the experiences of being a woman in a male-dominated industry. The final speaker was Rachel McCollin; web designer and author of a series of WordPress guides. Rachel spoke about her journey from being employed to becoming an entrepreneur.

The event was organised and hosted by Michelle Rayner, Innovation Birmingham’s Entrepreneurs for the Future Programme Manager. The food was provided by Birmingham-based ChangeKitchen, founded by another respected female entrepreneur; Dr. Birgit Kehrer.

To view all the photos from the event click here>>

Cashless payments via your mobile phone in shops

Cash Register. Creative Commons Tony Hall

Cash Register. Creative Commons Tony Hall

Cash, credit card, debit card and gift vouchers are all ways we’re used to paying for goods and services in shops and cafes, but recently, I’ve noticed more and more places displaying the Droplet symbol in their windows as a payment option.  A cashless payment method from your phone?

Intrigued I started looking into it and download the app to my phone. it’s really simple, you put money onto your droplet account from your bank account and when you want to pay for something you whip out your phone and send a payment. Your phone will suggest retailers based on your location, you select the correct one, stick in the amount and your done.  The atotal gets deducted from your balance and  you off.

It takes seconds, I couldn’t believe how quick it made the check out process.

It started in Birmingham and is now available to use in over 200 shops, cafes etc across Birmingham and London – and I personally hope more and more retails jump on board!

This is the case study direct from the roadmap:

One example of a successful connectivity-oriented business in Birmingham is Droplet, which launched in 2012. Droplet is a smart phone application that allows users to load money directly from their bank account to their phone.

They can then pay for in less than 5 seconds using their Droplet account (e.g. at coffee shops); saving the customer and shop time at the point of sale and offering them with a social networking opportunity at the same time.

Transactions are highly secure and the platform provides merchants with a promotional channel direct to its customers.There are no transaction fees for either the merchant or end user and Droplet provides the perfect opportunity to move towards an ideal cashless business environment.

After just one year since launch, Droplet is already available in Birmingham and London, with thousands of users and a rapidly-growing community of more than 300 shops and services taking part – including Chiltern Railways’ on-train catering service.

Based at Innovation Birmingham, business models such as Droplet depend on reliable connectivity – at all times.

Action I5: Freight Capacity utilisation

Although road freight accounts for just 6% of the West Midlands traffic, delays to its movement account for 30% of the total economic impact (£600m). And in particular Birmingham’s retail centres attract a great deal of delivery traffic. Road congestion, particularly on the strategic network, is a major issue for Birmingham’s residents and businesses.
We therefore aim create new solutions that will improve the use of spare freight capacity through data collection and demand aggregation thus reducing the number of vehicles on the road and that allow freight operators to travel more efficiently through the city.

Stakeholders identified


Potential stakeholders

  • Retailers
  • Primary logistics operators
  • Secondary logistics operators
  • Road Haulage association
  • Customers ordering a delivery
  • SAP

What makes this approach smart?

  • Encouraging new solutions based on data aggregation and interpretation
  • Stakeholder engagement along and across supply chain

Short-term actions

  • Engaging stakeholders to create common understanding
  • Mapping and analysing city freight vehicle routes
  • Publish freight route data on Transportation Data Platform (H1)
  • Innovation competition with journey data

Future actions

  • Create mechanisms for paid use of spare capacity
  • Review requirement for freight facilities linked to Green Roadmap consolidation centres