Blog: Celebrating the 1st year of IAWM

Today, Innovation Alliance for the West Midlands (IAWM) is celebrating its first birthday since its transformation from Birmingham Science City one year ago!

IAWM was formally launched on 30th January 2018. In this blog we look at our key achievements and the findings of an online survey of stakeholder at the end of our first year, and look forward to what 2019 might bring.

Following extensive consultation with stakeholders, IAWM was established last year as a bottom-up Alliance of diverse organisations active or interested in S&T based innovation across the West Midlands with the following objectives:

  • Building and maintaining a thriving innovation ecosystem
  • Stimulating and catalysing a pipeline of collaborative innovation activity

A year on, over 95% of survey respondents (55) still thought these objectives were important.  Our performance against these objectives was generally rated as good or very good, as shown below, though the work to catalyse new projects was slightly less strong.

It is perhaps not surprising that the ecosystem work was rated highly, as we led or co-led a total of 28 events with 978 attendances, from small, focussed workshops to Venturefest WM with over 300 attendees. We have also see a huge growth in engagement with our social media over the year, most notable with Twitter (@InnovationWM).

At the very core of the Innovation Alliance’s work is our three working groups – Innovative Health WG, Innovative Low Carbon WG and the Smart City Alliance. Over the year we have held a total of 15 Working group meetings with 311 attendances, as well as providing regular email updates to these groups between meetings. Our survey suggested good levels of satisfaction with the various aspects of our Working Groups, as below.

The weakest rating for working group activity is ‘work to develop collaborative opportunities’, consistent with the finding above regarding our second objective.  This does not necessarily reflect a lack of action, but more that this area of work takes longer to yield evident results. Throughout the year we ran 8 project/activity focused workshops with 144 attendances and have been actively engaged in developing the following:

  • Full business case for WM Innovation Programme with WMCA
  • Outline Business case for Cross Industry Technology Exploitation in Clusters (CITEC) with Midlands Aerospace Alliance and other sector support bodies
  • Two consortia preparing to respond to Healthy Ageing Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund call

Moving into 2019, we have also started working with the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) and Constructing Excellence Midlands to identify challenges in construction that might benefit from a collaborative innovation approach, and are mapping the regional Smart Cities landscape to identify areas of challenge or opportunity to address collaboratively.

We will take note of the feedback received through our survey, some very specific and some more general to continue to improve our service to the West Midlands Innovation community.  We are always happy to receive feedback and suggestions, and we especially encourage you to come forward with ideas for new collaborative innovation activity – this is YOUR innovation alliance.  But overall, we are very gratified that at the end of the first year, 96% of survey respondents wanted to stay involved with the Innovation Alliance WM.

We are grateful to all of you who have been part of IAWM in its first year, and especially to our resourcing partners Black Country LEP, Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP, Innovation Birmingham Ltd, Sustainability West Midlands, West Midlands Academic Health Sciences Network and West Midlands Combined Authority, and the Private sector Chairs of our working groups and other activities. If you want to get more involved in any way, please contact us by email  – or (to join mailing list) or follow us on Twitter.

The results of the Stakeholder Survey reflects the continued need for IAWM, and we are thrilled to witness the positive impacts that are a testament to the hard-work and dedication of our committed team.

Whilst we revel in being one whole year old, we thought we would share some highlights!

The IAWM Launch Event, January 2018

The IAWM Local Industrial Strategy Policy & Practice Breakfast Event, July 2018 



Venturefest West Midlands, September 2018



We were bowled over by some of the amazing comments that stakeholders provided as part if our annual survey…

“IAWM is by far the most effective body at stimulating collaborative innovation in the region and in doing so enabling success.”

“Meetings are excellent for stimulating serendipitous relationships and opportunities between organisations in the meeting.” 

“IAWM provides a useful forum to find out what people are doing and where potential collaboration lies.”

“I have really enjoyed being involved in the meetings and making new contacts etc. I am learning so much.” 

Thank you again for your continued support, and here’s to another exciting year!