Birmingham City Council and Birmingham City University are joining forces on 13th and 14th June to welcome a European delegation to the city. The delegates are here as part of a European Funded project team to look into ways of boosting the local economy by encouraging SMEs to become more innovative. The West Midlands were recently identified as being the joint lowest performing in terms of the Regional Innovation Scoreboard. So clearly there is work to be done.
Part of this innovation which the project hopes to spark in more SMES stems from the latest hot topic in creative circles creative maker spaces. These are spaces where people with a variety of skills work together to come up with new ideas and products. A fantastic example of this is the recently opened maker space in Digbeth: STEAMhouse https://www.steamhouse.org.uk/ Opened in May this year, STEAM house is home to specially designed spaces to prototype new products and develop new ideas, plus a fabrication facility where members can experiment with digital, wood, metal and print production. It could be the birthplace of the next big idea for the city!
The delegates will also be visiting a number of maker spaces and creative quarters in the city including: Innovation Birmingham, STEAM house, Fizz Pop and the Custard Factory to gather ideas to take home.
The Urban M project has been up and running since spring 2017. Over the past year the partnership has seen many interesting examples of collaborative maker spaces. The project is supporting policy makers and local city stakeholders to share good practice on the development and sustainability of collaborative maker spaces. One of the key aims of the project is to learn from the successes which already exist within the partnership, in supporting local innovation through collaborative making. The project’s objective is to share good practice and to ensure maker spaces thrive by changing local and regional innovation policy to support them. Currently we are working with eight cities (Birmingham, Bratislava, Lazio, Lisbon, Kranj, San Sebastian, Vilnius, Zagreb), but ultimately we hope the good practices and learning developed through this project will be transferrable to other cities and regions across the EU.
Watch this space #UrbanM_Interreg
(Author: Heather Law, Birmingham City Council)