Birmingham Science Park Aston was founded in 1982 and as such is the UK’s third oldest science park. Located in its urban location within central Birmingham, it offers 250,0000 sq ft of accommodation over 14 acres.
Birmingham Science Park Aston is wholly owned by Birmingham City Council. To give the Park a new dimension, provide clarity and pave the way for the £35 million Digital Plaza development, from 2013 it is being presented as two campuses; the Science & Technology Campus and the Innovation Birmingham Campus.
Innovation Birmingham Campus; The base for Birmingham’s tech community
The Innovation Birmingham team is actively looking to work with and bring together the public and private sectors, creating interfaces for people with ideas, people with technologies, people with expertise and experience, and people with money. It is a one-stop-shop for innovators, entrepreneurs and investors looking to develop or fund tech start-ups with high growth potential.
The Innovation Birmingham strategy is focused on a service offering for founders of new technology ventures, as well as more established tech businesses. The campus facilities include the Entrepreneurs for the Future (e4f) multi-occupancy start-up centre with hot-desking facilities and a wide range of flexible office units (115-15,000 sq ft). However, the campus is far from just bricks and mortar; the team actively nurtures an interactive and supportive community within the place. The Campus strategy is about encouraging people to visit, engage with the businesses based there, and attract new tenants to the Park. By creating a wide range of valuable opportunities, the missing aspects of a successful business puzzle can be solved, helping innovators and tech entrepreneurs to succeed.
The Innovation Birmingham Campus is responsible for delivering the following activities and projects:
Entrepreneurs for the Future centre (e4f)
This ERDF European-funded incubation centre is specifically focused on creating new innovative technology ventures. It provides a flexible, highly connected and collaborative environment to fast-track the development and growth of tech start-ups. As the companies grow, they are then able to graduate into larger premises within Faraday Wharf, or elsewhere on the Science Park.
The objective of the e4f programme is to diversify the region’s economy through the incubation of innovative tech start-ups, which create new high-value jobs and retain more of the city’s talented graduate population. Start-ups in the e4f incubator benefit from an initial six months free access to a dynamic co-working centre, with full ICT support and meeting facilities. This includes free access to the Ideas and Communications Suite, which houses state-of-the-art Cisco video conferencing equipment, together with other interactive technology.
In addition to free use of the facilities, e4f provides mentoring and support services – specific to tech start-ups – based on regional, national and international networks, in order to give entrepreneurs invaluable access to the best expertise and experience. Access to professional services advisers also helps to ensure that the entrepreneurs have all they need to launch, develop and grow.
Within the first six months of being enrolled onto e4f, the Innovation Birmingham team and mentor base works with the new business founders to create a value proposition, assisting with the process of becoming revenue generating and/or securing investment funding. Start-ups in e4f can take advantage of well-established links with funds such as Finance Birmingham’s Tech Fund.
Since establishing in November 2009, e4f has supported the creation of 70 new technology companies, generating over 130 employees and directors.
LAUNCH: The Uk's most active events programme for the digital gaming industry
The UK games industry is the second largest in the world after the US, and the West Midlands is home to 25 per cent of the country’s total games workforce. The region has become a hub for games and digital media; and indeed 19 gaming companies have already been nurtured in the e4f centre, with many more established studios relocating to the Park over the past five years.
This critical mass of digital gaming companies prompted the Innovation Birmingham team to run a year-round programme of events for this burgeoning community. LAUNCH events provide a wealth of technical knowledge specifically aimed at those working in the gaming or mobile app industries. The events are also targeted at students, graduates and anyone looking to launch a career in gaming, a new game, or a new gaming company.
There are at least eight LAUNCH events per year, with speakers drawn from the most high profile gaming companies in the UK, such as Codemasters, Microsoft, Vodafone Games and Playground Games.
A 10 year legacy of delivering euroLED; the UK's largest event for the LED industry
Innovation Birmingham’s euroLED exhibition, gala dinner and conference moved to The ICC Birmingham in 2013 to celebrate its 10th year, when over 2,500 visitors from 30 countries gathered to share best practice about the latest innovations in the LED (light emitting diode) and solid-state lighting industry.
The two-day, annual event is dedicated to the science and technology of LEDs. euroLED’s technical conference draws headline speakers from across Europe and America. As a complement to the conference, the exhibition features over 100 stands, showcasing the biggest brands in LED lighting, alongside innovative newcomers to the market. On the first evening of the event, a gala dinner provides a further networking opportunity.
euroLED focuses on components, such as drivers, PCBs, optics and heat sinks, as well as testing competences and LED lighting products for the medical and industrial sectors. The technical conference explores the themes of LED systems, engines and modules, thermal management, testing and standardisation.
The conference advisory board includes representatives from LUX-TSI, Toshiba, Osram, Thorn Lighting, Bridgelux, Underwriters Laboratories (UL) and Meanwell. euroLED’s media sponsor is A1 Lighting magazine.
Investing in the future: 2Gbit/s broadband connectivity
In a move to enhance Birmingham’s Smart City credentials, Birmingham Science Park Aston has invested in infrastructure to increase its broadband connectivity 10-fold, from 200Mbit/s to 2Gbit/s. The Park now offers tenants a download and upload speed that equals the best on offer anywhere in the UK.
The 2Gbit/s capacity ensures each Science Park tenant can have a dedicated, resilient broadband connection of up to 100Mbit/s. Such speeds enable a two hour, full HD film to download in less than five minutes, and YouTube clips and websites to load instantly.
The super-fast broadband service is powered by WarwickNet; a specialist business and science park Internet Service Provider. WarwickNet has installed two 1Gbit/s lines separately routed from London and Manchester, ensuring a resilient connection can be provided at all times; a vital necessity for tech businesses.
In order to support growing tech companies, the Park has set a pricing structure for internet connectivity that provides a dedicated, resilient 100Mbit/s connection starting at £1,000 + VAT per month. Meanwhile, a 10Mbit/s connection will continue to cost tenants £35 + VAT per month.
Investing in the future: £35 million Digital Plaza development
Birmingham Science Park Aston is the gateway to the Eastside learning and knowledge quarter, with the Digital Plaza site accessed off Holt Street/Enterprise Way and A38 Aston Expressway. The Science Park’s vacant development plot has been identified within the Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP’s Enterprise Zone proposals, which covers 26 sites within the centre of the city. The Digital Plaza will be one of the first Enterprise Zone developments to get underway and will enable its future occupiers to benefit from Business Rates relief.