By Dr Pam Waddell, Director of Birmingham Science City

The revised Constitution of the Birmingham Science City (BSC) Alliance was adopted in December 2015, stating:

Birmingham Science City is an alliance of public, private and university stakeholders working together to stimulate and promote science and technology driven innovation for business growth and improved quality of life in Birmingham and the West Midlands.

This blog lists key achievements across the BSC Alliance in 2016 against each of the three objectives of the new constitution. Those in italics have been significantly enabled by the BSC Executive Team.

1. Building and maintaining a thriving local innovation ecosystem

  • The second Venturefest West Midlands was held at the NEC with over 600 innovators, entrepreneurs and investors attending with a wide range of partners contributing to the event
  • The BSC Executive ran/ co-ran over 20 Working Group, 4 Board and 4 Chief Technology Officers meetings, averaging about 15 attendees, with a presentations and wide-ranging discussion
  • The BSC website was refreshed and the Blog was relaunched as a tools to inform and encourage debate on innovation strategy, support and delivery
  • The Energy Systems Catapult moved into its premises in central Birmingham
  • Both the i-Centrum Building (including Serendip Incubator) and the Universities Centre were opened on the Innovation Birmingham Campus
  • £250m Midlands Engine Investment Fund (Fund of Funds) was approved and will launch early 2017

2. Catalysing collaborative activity that drives Science and technology based innovation

  • Midlands Engine was one of first wave of Science and Innovation Audits selected by BIS (now BEIS) and audit was conducted and published. Work is underway to develop funding asks against the market-driven priorities that emerged
  • A supplementary WMCA Science and Innovation Audit is underway funded by 3 LEPs
  • WM Academic Health Science Network launched Meridian, an online health innovation exchange
  • Nine projects are live in the Priority 1 (R&D and Innovation) strand of the current GBS LEP ERDF Programme, with 5 more approved, including Innovation Engine 2 and the Medical Devices Testing and Evaluation Centre
  • The Consortium for the Demonstration of Intelligent Systems (CDIS) proposal was developed to the point that phase 1 (£5m) has started the approval process of the WM Combined Authority
  • Midlands Innovation (6 universities) launched the £60m Energy Research Accelerator
  • Birmingham City University secured £14m of government funding toward the STEAMHouse Innovation Centre at Digbeth working with the Creative sector.

3. The collective expert voice for innovation

  • The West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) Innovation Working Group ensured that the WMCA Strategic Economic Plan included innovation as a strong priority
  • GBS LEP formed an Innovation sub-Board (of Business Pillar Board) and an Innovation Executive post
  • Innovate UK has established a regional manager post that has linked well to the BSC Alliance.

It has been a busy but successful year for the small BSC Executive team and all the BSC Alliance partners – but we look forward to more connecting, catalysing and comment in 2017!

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