Business Support Service from:
Birmingham City University Logo

STEAMhouse Expert Interview: Embracing Digital for SMEs



STEAMhouse Expert Interview: Embracing Digital for SMEs

In case you missed it, STEAMhouse is brought to you by Birmingham City University and it’s much more than a makerspace. At STEAMhouse, you’ll find a melting pot of technology, workspace and business support where your ideas meet our expertise. 

Paul Found is STEAMhouse’s resident digital specialist.

We’ve sat down with Paul to find out what digital means for SMEs and how it could help you realise your businesses potential.

Hi Paul. It’s an important time for businesses to be aware of all things digital. How do you think embracing digital can help small businesses to realise their potential? 

When a lot of people (businesses) think about digital, they think about social media but this is only one element. While “digital” is of course vital for communication and marketing, it is equally important in the design and development of products and services. 

Can you tell us about the digital equipment at STEAMhouse, what would we expect to find in the digital workshop?

 We have tried to provide a range of equipment and software that is industry-standard, and is what our users will actually need. For digital manufacturing and prototyping, we have a laser cutter for cutting and engraving sheet materials such as wood and acrylic. There’s the three Ultimaker 3D printers, including an Ultimaker 3 which can print with two different plastic materials at the same time, and a milling machine which machines objects from blocks of soft materials such as foam and wood. We also have a CNC router for cutting large sheet materials such a plywood, MDF, and thin metals. We have commercial licenses for Rhino 3D, Autodesk Design Collection and ZBrush software, as well as Adobe suite. There is also an Oculus Rift VR headset, Arduino electronics prototyping kits, an HD projector, and a PA system. 

More kit than you can shake a stick at then. How will this benefit SMEs?

 A lot of SMEs are based on great ideas, but initially at least, have a limited budget. They cannot afford to buy the 3D printers, laser cutters, or industry standard software they need to grow. STEAMhouse gives eligible SMEs free access to these facilities. At a more fundamental level, access to equipment and the opportunity to discuss ideas with technicians and other STEAMhouse users, means ideas can develop faster and better than if attempted in isolation. 

Sounds fantastic, so where do you fit into the picture Paul? 

I am the guy who keeps all the machinery working. Beyond that, my knowledge and experience means I can offer STEAMhouse users guidance into how they can develop their ideas. I do not claim to know everything, so I am also hoping to learn a lot from the people who come to work in the space too. 



start-iconCreated with Sketch.
grow-iconCreated with Sketch.
innovate-iconCreated with Sketch.
Making it easier to support your business

Join 1600+ monthly newsletter subscribers to receive the latest business support blogs, events, funding opportunities and more…