Blog: Collaborate to Innovate

On 12th November, Innovate UK hosted ‘Innovate West Midlands’ – an event filled to the brim with innovative entrepreneurs and businesses, all to discuss the exciting collaborative and funding opportunities to help to develop and scale businesses. It was the West Midlands innovative ecosystem at its absolute finest.

Collaborate to Innovate
Amongst a trio of workshops in the afternoon, Innovation Alliance hosted ‘Collaborate to Innovate’, in which we “switched the pitch” and invited investors, maker spaces, and other business support mechanisms to “pitch” their various business support opportunities.

Those that pitched were:

  • GBSLEP Growth Hub
  • STEAMhouse
  • University Centre Shrewsbury Business Support Programmes
  • Birmingham Enterprise Community
  • Silicon Canal
  • CUE Business Solutions
  • Intellectual Property Office

A summary of the various opportunities can be found below…


GBSLEP aims to create jobs and grow the economy of Greater Birmingham and, in doing so, to raise the quality of life for all of the LEP’s population

Their business support is delivered with the GBS Growth Hub: “The home for business advice, funding and support across Greater Birmingham”

Their operating principles are:

  • Universal but tailored (Growth – SME focused)
  • No direct delivery
  • Simplifier, connector and enabler (One stop shop)
  • Impartial
  • No cost to access (for businesses)
  • A partnership


BSEEN is a student and graduate start-up programme, part funded by ERDF  – a collaboration of four universities in Birmingham.

The programme includes intensive start-up training in a peer to peer community, and is available to students up to 5 years after graduation.


STEAMhouse is a Maker Space located in Digbeth – a centre for innovation and collaborative learning. It links science, technology and arts to develop collaborative projects.

STEAMhouse is a fully funded programme that supports businesses, start-up and sole traders to develop new ideas, skills, products and services within LEP area.

University Centre Shrewsbury Business Support Programmes

UCS currently runs 4 funded business support programmes across Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin:

  1. Building Skills and Growth Capacity: focuses on supporting the growth of SMEs and microbusinesses, ensuring they identify and access skills development options that align with and unlock their growth potential.
  2. Digital Solutions: supporting SMEs to develop new digital innovations through research, innovation, technology transfer and commercialisation.
  3. Future Project Fund: UCS is launching a postgraduate conversion programme in Data Science funded by the Institute of Coding. It will address widening participation, gender diversity and inclusion issues within Data Science from early contact through to employment
  4. CREST@UCS: Centre for Research into Environmental Science & Technology: ERDF part funded: FREE business support & collaborative projects.

Birmingham Enterprise Community 

Birmingham Enterprise Community (BEC) is a social enterprise leading a revolutionary movement of entrepreneurs and changemakers across the Midlands region. Building bridges between entreprenuers, emerging startups and the local business community in order to bring people from different backgrounds, experiences and cultures together to build on innovative ideas and building things that can change the world.

CUE Business Solutions

Focus Digital: Supporting SMEs to introduce new digital products, services and processes through a mix and match of Workshops, 121 Graphic Design time and Grants.

Innovation Networks ERDF Grant Project: Supporting SMEs within Coventry & Warwickshire, Greater Birmingham & Solihull and The Black Country to commercialise Innovative products, process or service within the business. Grants can help fund external expenditure for: Intellectual Property (IP) due diligence, Market research/analysis/assessment, Marketing and tooling.

Proof of Concept: Supporting SMEs and Universities within C&W to raise levels of innovation through Proof of Concept activities for new products or processes.

Intellectual Property Office

Discover the IPO’s new Toolkit Platform.

Silicon Canal 

Silicon Canal is a community interest company, on a mission to “Build the West Midlands region into a great place for people living and working in technology”.

Silicon Canal is connecting, promoting and supporting tech businesses from freelancers and startups through to multinationals. Together we can make the West Midlands a beacon for tech and digital companies.


In return we only asked for one thing… that each and every partner took away at least one new connection for a potential collaborative partnership!