The Tech and Digital: Deep Dive Report, has been drawn up by Birmingham City University and the Regional Observatory to demonstrate how vital the tech industry will be to the region in driving growth and reducing unemployment.
The report is set to be formally launched during this year’s Innovation Fest (Friday May 26), a day-long competition which allows creative students to showcase their technological creations in front of expert judges and industry leaders.
Speakers at the event, held in the atrium at Millennium Point in Birmingham’s Eastside, will outline the importance of the innovation on show through the students’ final-year projects, as well as showcasing elements of the report.
Among the key findings, the report highlighted that the tech and digital sector in the West Midlands:
Heike Schuster-James, Senior Development Manager at Birmingham City University, said: “Innovation Fest is a great opportunity to see digital innovation in action. Students at our School of Computing are given the chance to showcase their final year projects.
“Projects cover a wide range from drone airspace management via cyber security to automated hydroponic plant growing. Students’ digital skills reach from problem solving with big data to media production.Rehan Bhana, Senior Academic at Birmingham City University and founder of Innovation Fest, said: “At the University we have been transforming with a highly active community of innovative practice, with clear focus of developing highly capable tech-minds of the next-generation.
“Partnering with authorities, industry and businesses to further productivity and help solve challenges we face through major investments like the STEAMHouse. The Innovation Festival is an event where projects come to life, tackling problem domains such transportation systems, cyber security, lifeltyle and healthcare.”
Innovation Fest provides a platform for students from the University’s Faculty of Computing, Engineering and the Built Environment to get expert feedback on their inventions which could go on to become businesses in the future.
A ground-breaking facial recognition cane for use by blind people was discovered at the event in 2015 and has gone on to gain international acclaim.
Tech and digital was the fifth biggest sector in the West Midlands Combined Authority area in 2016, with nearly 14,000 businesses. A wave of companies from this sector have located to the West Midlands, including US fintech specialist Lombard Risk Management plc – that is creating 140 jobs in the region – and HR software specialist Allegis Global Solutions, which is recruiting for 100 roles.
The industry is expected to be one of the region’s biggest growth areas over the next decade, with Birmingham already recognised as one of the country’s startup hotspots and the UK’s premier tech and digital centre outside of London.
Nicola Hewitt, Commercial Director at the West Midlands Growth Company – which also operates the Regional Observatory – commented: “The West Midlands is home to one of the UK’s most vibrant digital and tech clusters. From world-renowned brands to creative start-ups, the industry supports more than 70,000 jobs in the region. Increasing numbers of tech and digital firms are locating and expanding here, attracted to the region’s talented workforce and accessibility to other growth sectors such as financial services and life sciences.
“It is critical for the future economic growth of the West Midlands to support our tech and digital companies – through local universities, incubator programmes, science parks and business networks – and ensure that this sector continues to thrive here.”