The impact of Science and Technology-based Innovation in and around Birmingham – a citizen’s view

As part of the Common Purpose Meridian course, which is aimed at cross-sector leaders, a group of participants from a wide variety of organisations, took part in an “Understanding Change” module on the theme of “Passion and Resonance.”

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The objective for the session was two-fold, to give participants insight into a different field, ie science and technology, and to consider the leadership skills and behaviors needed, to not only demonstrate passion but to be able to resonate with different stakeholders.

Below are the thoughts of the participants after the session, which included a context-setting session with Dr Pam Waddell, of Birmingham Science City which took place at the Innovation Birmingham Campus and visits to the European Bioenergy Research Institute at Aston University, the Digital Heritage Demonstrator Project, University of Birmingham and the Aston University Engineering Academy.

The participants thoroughly enjoyed their insight into science and technology and the opportunity to think more about the potential impacts for not just the city but for society as a whole.

It is clear that there is a great amount of science and technology innovation going on in the city. The question is whether the link between the innovators and the private sector is strong enough. The people we met on our visits had a plan for wider industry engagement and were clear about its critical impact. It is crucial for the growth and development of the city as well as the growth and development of young people and talent within the city.

“Innovation should be at the heart of the government education agenda. Turning your back on new ideas is quite cancerous. We should be open to innovation and nurture them rather than ignoring them even though it will take time to demonstrate the tangible benefit for investors and early adopters. To really make progress, science and technology and particularly innovation, needs to be made more accessible.

“There is a skills gap at the moment but inclusivity and engagement with young people could increase interaction with science and innovation not just during school but throughout life after education. Does the lack on inclusivity at the moment mean we are missing skills at grass root levels? How do we make sure that this does not happen? Partnership work between colleges/school and business is clearly key in ensuring that the skills gap is closed, talent is harness and nurtured and our future innovators have the support to grow.

“Ultimately, the potential commercial gain is exciting and it is important to harness that creative talent. One way to harness this talent is through partnerships as demonstrated, for example, by the work done at Innovation Birmingham Campus.”

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