People and places

I have been away for a while doing other things.

Now, to be back in the digital media and creative industries in Birmingham, I am more excited and invigorated than ever by the potential of the people I meet in (and outside) of Birmingham and the ideas they have. Put that alongside some amazing work of established companies it makes for a very exciting future ahead.

I recently read a book called ‘Start-up of you‘ (by the chaps that started Linked In). Once you get over the fact that it is one big advert for Linked In (which is not a bad thing) it touches on the importance of the people who are around you and what role they play in creating a dynamic and progressive economy.

It also discusses a ‘geographical density’. When you first read it you could be forgiven for thinking that it is trying to say “big buildings with lots of people working inside them”. I don’t read it like that in its entirety. What it is trying to say (and does quite well) is that a physical location(s) with lots of things happening in it gives ‘density’, and within which an opportunity rich environment can occur. (Dr) Rick Robinson (Dr because he is far better informed than I am!!) helpful pointed me towards some interesting formal scientific work to back the theory that the size and density of cities directly feeds their creativity.

This is where Birmingham does very well by these metrics.

It does very well because there is a very small degree of separation between everyone (giving rise to the concept of ‘everyone knowing everyone’) (if you don’t believe me plug-in InMaps into your Linked In profile and believe that).

Geographical density for technology, digital, media and creative industries is clearly achieved by the Birmingham Science Park clockwise round to the Custard Factory (17 minutes walk via Fazeley Studio, even less when you cut through Millennium Point). When you take into consideration the Jewellery Quarter, Moseley Exchange the emerging resource of University of Birmingham’s Digital Demonstrator and don’t forget the Independent Coffee Shop of Birmingham – you start to see not only a network of people, but a network of places with excellent resources available. (He writes sipping a coffee wondering how many businesses start with a coffee?)

However, for all the benefits, there are draw backs.

If everyone does really know everyone else then where do two worlds of experience and expertise collide to create something new?

I am always delighted when I catch up with someone that I have known for a long time and start looking at an enterprise with them … a sense of excitement and energy can be created so easily with a little imagination.

However, I am even more delighted when I meet someone that no one knows and bring them in. They are continually amazed by what they find in Birmingham.

I encourage everyone to bring in 10 ‘new’ people into these spaces and introduce them to your network. Show them what we have got. They will want to come back, and you never know, some of them will want to stay.

On that point, at the moment, I am not going to play the numbers game. Playing the numbers is a cyclic argument that ignores the reality of what is actually happening if you just see it for yourself. I’ll post another blog about that in the future – when I know what the numbers look like!

In the mean time, food for thought …

Business Birmingham report:

“23% of the digital media business increased their turnover by over 10% and staffing by more than 20% annually during the last three years”. They must know the businesses that they talked to.

The Guardian Report:

 “There are more than 3,000 tech firms in east London, employing up to 50,000 people in the digital economy. Here are 20 companies to watch out for” … with an interesting comment made by mrchristian99.

“Can’t a journalist even do the basics and research their figures, these opening stats of[…], are just completely made up stuff that the PMs office pump out as part of the TechCity programme. Like if a hair dressers has a web page they´re startup. Jees, if only the gov could create some jobs here.”

(I particularly like the idea of “if only the gov could create some jobs here” … I thought entrepreneurs created jobs …  mea culpa)

I report:

Come and see it for yourself. You only need one or two good people to make a business fly. The rest you go and get.

David Roberts is founder of drProjects Enterprises and is co-founder of Settle with three other people (Steffan Aquarone, Will Grant, Andy Smart) that he met in the opportunity rich, geographically dense Urban Coffee Company Church Street. I tweet @daviddrprojects. I use Linked In. Say hello.