Birmingham Tech CIC, the region’s not-for-profit technology cluster organisation, hosted Paul Scully MP, Minister for Small Business, Consumers and Labour Markets. Hosted at Innovation Birmingham, the Minister got to see why Birmingham is the UK’s regional startup capital and why the West Midlands has the fastest growing digital sector in the UK.
During the visit, the Minister met with some of the innovative businesses supported by Birmingham Tech, and partners they work closely with, including Goldman Sachs, NatWest, British Business Bank and Bruntwood Sci-Tech. The visit included a roundtable discussion, where the Minister heard from local industry leaders on what support is needed for small businesses to recover and further catapult the region’s tech capabilities. Better access to early-stage finance, more scale up support for businesses, and help to enter global markets were among the themes raised.
Small Business Minister Paul Scully said:
“There is so much creativity and dynamism in the West Midlands and across the UK, but without access to support it’s difficult to fully unlock the entrepreneurial spirit that makes this region great.
“Birmingham has one of the proudest histories of creativity and innovation in the world, from photocopiers and x-rays, to Balti and heavy metal music, a legacy which the dynamic businesses I’ve met today and organisations like Birmingham Tech are taking forward.
The region has been crowned the UK’s fastest-growing tech sector, with data from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport forecasting that by 2025, tech in the West Midlands could create an extra 52,000 jobs and boost the national economy by £2.7bn.
This follows research published earlier in 2021, that finds the region has the largest emerging technologies cluster outside London, hosting the largest spread of up-and-coming tech strengths, and the highest number of companies developing new tech of any other UK region. The study by London Economics and Glass AI also shows in Tech & Creative especially, the West Midlands has more companies specialising in digital transformation; gaming; immersive tech; process automation and software development than any other core city region in the UK.
Goldman Sachs is among the latest entrants to the local cluster, creating a new digital engineering hub in Birmingham this year – its first cross divisional office outside of the Capital. The global investment bank chose the city for its growing finance and technology ecosystem, tech talent employment base, and academic expertise.
Gurjit Jagpal, Managing Director, GS Accelerate Digital Entrepreneur and Head of Goldman Sachs Birmingham commented:
“Entrepreneurship and innovation have always been a core part of the Goldman Sachs culture, making Birmingham the perfect place to create our new hub. We believe in cultivating an environment where our people can work together, think big and shape the future with their ideas.
“We are delighted to be partnering with Birmingham Tech as they have done a great job of bringing together the tech community, highlighting digital skills opportunities and promoting the region’s tech capabilities. We are looking forward to working closely with them to support more small businesses across the region, alongside our existing programmes such as the hugely successful 10,000 Small Businesses programme that we run in collaboration with Aston University.
While visiting, the Minister also met some of Birmingham Tech’s key collaborators who have been instrumental in helping to transform the region’s technology ecosystem and economy, including West Midlands SuperTech, WM5G, West Midlands Health Technologies Cluster, the Innovation Alliance for the West Midlands and the West Midlands Growth Company (WMGC) – the region’s official investment promotion agency.
Mike Lewis, Sector Lead for Creative, Digital & Tech at WMGC, said:
“The evidence is clear – the West Midlands’ tech sector is an exciting place to be. The forecasts, combined with a strong year for investment, show that our region’s innovation facilities, tech-savvy talent pool and connectivity offer – both physical and digital – provide a top alternative to the capital for both early-stage startups and global corporations to grow and disrupt.
“Our task now is to build on this momentum. Through our dedicated Business and Tourism Programme (BATP), we are leveraging the global profile of next year’s Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games to showcase our tech investment opportunities to the world and invite more entrants into our growing cluster of tech innovators, which has significant potential for our role in the national levelling up agenda.
Aston University, another organisation working closely with Birmingham Tech, were also present through their Aston Centre for Growth team. The Centre, which helps small businesses achieve more, is one of the delivery partners for the government’s Help to Grow Management programme which will support 30,000 leaders and is 90% funded by the government.
Tech companies in the West Midlands have raised £454 million in venture capital funding already this year, compared to £358 million last year, while tech vacancies have increased from 5,099 in December 2020 to 9,287 in October 2021.
Yiannis Maos, CEO at Birmingham Tech commented:
“It was great to have the Minister visit us today and experience first-hand why our region is at the forefront of the UK’s digital revolution. Collaboration has and will continue to be at the heart of our work and that’s why it was so good to see so many of our partners come together today. However, we must continue this ethos as we go into 2022 to ensure the momentum continues and that our potential becomes reality. It’s an exciting time to be working in tech and the government’s support will no doubt help the West Midlands’ digital economy go from strength to strength.