Tag Archives: Tech Entrepreneurs

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.

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

Innovation Birmingham celebrates 100 tech start-ups in less than five years

Innovation Birmingham held a milestone event for 150 people Wednesday 1st July to celebrate the 100th tech start-up to enrol onto the Entrepreneurs for the Future programme.
Part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund and Innovation Birmingham, the flagship project, which was launched in November 2009, has seen its tech start-ups secure over £4 million in initial funding rounds. 170 skilled jobs have been created as a result.

The focus of the event was presentations from the Entrepreneurs for the Future alumni and current cohort of start-ups going through the six month incubation process. The programme, which is about providing a supportive environment for tech start-ups to grow and develop their businesses, includes dedicated one-to-one mentoring with an assigned Entrepreneur in Residence. Other aspects of the offer include a variety of events and workshops delivered by leading Birmingham professionals to aid commerciality, access to finance, free co-working space, meeting rooms, telephone and wifi. The total package has a monetary value of £10,000, but is free for qualifying innovative tech start-ups.

Nick Holzherr, serial entrepreneur and CEO of Whisk.com said: “I was the first to enrol onto the Entrepreneurs for the Future programme, with a tech business that continues to run today. Had it not been for the support I received, I think I may have left Birmingham and opted for a career in banking.
“Having been running Whisk.com from a building next to the Entrepreneurs for the Future centre for over two years, I’m grateful for everything I learnt while on the programme. Birmingham has been brilliant for us – we’ve been able to afford and attract a technically highly skilled team to build a product that we’re offering to markets around the world.”

To read the full press release visit the Innovation Birmingham Campus news page