Tinyme launches augmented reality kids book

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Innovation Birmingham Campus-based design, software development and manufacturing start-up, Tinyme, has launched a fully personalised, augmented reality kids book, The Amazing Alphabet.

The Amazing Alphabet is a beautiful, keepsake book that is uniquely personalised and custom printed for each child. By hovering over the book with free accompanying app, the characters jump out of the page in 3D with music and sound effects, allowing the app to read the story to the child by enabling them to engage with the printed page in an interactive way.

Launched in 2006, Tinyme has grown organically from a one-person start-up to a 50-strong team, with an international presence in Australia, US and the UK.

Mike Wilson, Founder of Tinyme, said: “As a Dad of six, I’ve spent hundreds of hours reading books to my kids; encouraging them to have a deep love for reading. I’ve also spent quite a bit of time playing around with a bunch of a pretty cool kids apps. As someone who founded a studio which writes, illustrates, develops software and even physically prints personalised books for kids, I’m really excited by what our team at Tinyme has now created.

“We’ve always loved how kids get so excited about having a book written and illustrated specially just for them, but a personalised book just for them that pops to life with music and animation that you can engage with, now that’s really, really special.”

Tinyme are part of Innovation Birmingham Campus’ community of over 1000 digital entrepreneurs and techies. Significant investment guarantees the Campus benefits from a 30Gbit/s Wi-Fi and broadband service – equalling the fastest internet connection available anywhere in the UK.

For additional information on Tinyme and The Amazing Alphabet, visit: www.tinyme.co.uk/the-amazing-alphabet-book

For more information on Innovation Birmingham, please visit: www.innovationbham.com

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Birmingham voted top for business tourism

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Birmingham has been ranked as the country’s favourite business tourism destination outside of London, ahead of Manchester, Edinburgh and Leeds.

UK-based event organisers also revealed that Birmingham was the preferred choice outside of the capital to host events on this year’s annual British Meetings & Events Industry Survey (BMEIS).

The BMEIS report highlights the buying trends and characteristics of nearly 500 conference organisers from the corporate and not-for-profit sectors.

Working with venues across the region, Meet Birmingham – the city’s business tourism programme – has secured 56 new national and international events in 2016, an increase of 133% on the previous 12 months, delivering an anticipated combined impact of over £35 million to the local economy.

Stephanie Mynett, visitor economy business development manager at Meet Birmingham, said: “This is the eighth time in a row that Birmingham has been voted the top regional UK location for conferencing and events.

“Birmingham has seen a 17% growth in domestic leisure and business visitors since 2010, as well as the largest increase of international visits for any city outside London, contributing to an overall tourism economy worth £6.2 billion.

“As the city continues to welcome a series of new venues and developments, with a particular recent influx of independent food and drink outlets, we’ve been connecting with tour operators, conference organisers and travel agents at events across the globe to ensure Birmingham builds on its favourable reputation in this market.”

Since the start of 2016, Birmingham has been boosted by major openings and redevelopments across its business tourism sector. Europe’s first Park Regis Hotel and AC Hotel Birmingham opened in the spring, while BLOC Hotels this month launched new apartments in the city’s Jewellery Quarter. New or refurbished conferencing facilities in the region include Canalside at The Cube, The Slate at Warwick Conferences, a £1.8 million refresh of the ICC’s halls and meeting rooms and the Birmingham Conference and Events Centre (BCEC).

Vincent Garrington, general manager at the BCEC, said: “Since opening our doors on 3rd October 2016, enquiry levels into the BCEC have far exceeded our initial projections, with current mid-week bookings at 67% occupancy for the venue – a positive sign that Birmingham is leading the way in attracting events to the Midlands and the BCEC is meeting an ever increasing demand.”

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Kaido wins EIT Health Award

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Digital health business, Kaido, has been crowned one of seven winners at this year’s EIT Health UK-Ireland Headstart/Proof-of-Concept Awards.

The Kaido Insights platform uses big data and professional health expertise from the clinical and sports science space to empower individuals and businesses to better understand their health. The aim for the Kaido platform is to encourage a culture of personalised medicine and pro-active patient care through a better understanding of behaviour.

The EIT Health Headstart/Proof-of-Concept Awards programme is an EIT Health Accelerator activity to provide “one-off” funding of up to €50,000 for emerging companies and small and medium sized enterprises to develop new products and services.

Kaido were one of seven projects selected to receive in-kind support from IBM, P&G and Pfizer, as well as financial and networking support from EIT Health, following an impressive pitch to a panel of judges.

Richard Westman, Founder at Kaido, said: “Wearable technologies and applications have made a successful start in helping people to track their behavioural patterns, however these devices are currently working in isolation, providing users with lots of disparate data sets that are left open to interpretation.

“The agnostic Kaido digital health platform integrates with all health and fitness applications and helps users make sense of the data their data but more importantly provides insights on how to make positive behavioural change.”

Kaido is one of 25 start-ups currently on Innovation Birmingham’s Serendip Smart City Incubator; a programme which co-locates promising start-up businesses with large commercial partners. Based on the first floor of the Campus’ 42,149 sq ft iCentrum building, the commercial partners help to mentor qualifying early stage tech companies and may, in turn, become customers or distribution channels for the start-ups.

They are also affiliated with several high-profile organisations including Microsoft, the English Institute of Sport, Manchester City FC and the official governing body for British Gymnastics.

To sign up to the Kaido platform, visit: www.kaidogroup.com

For more information on Innovation Birmingham, please visit: www.innovationbham.com

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Conigital Group showcase future of transport at Innovate UK 2016

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Innovation Birmingham Campus-based start-up Conigital, was one of just 25 businesses to exhibit their innovation at this year’s Innovate UK 2016 event, demonstrating the next generation of driverless vehicles to an audience of over 2,500 of the UK’s leading innovators, business leaders and investors.

Conigital are part of Project INSIGHT, a £2.2 million funded Innovate UK project led by an all British consortium consisting of Heathrow, Westfield Sports Cars, Conigital, Fusion and Birmingham City University, which is developing driverless shuttles with advanced sensors to trial in Birmingham, with a focus on accessibility for the disabled, ageing and visually-impaired people building on the existing Heathrow POD and make it fully autonomous and roadworthy.

With an enviable centre stage provided by Climate KIC, an Innovate UK partner organisation which supports cleantech and environmentally friendly organisations, Conigital showcased the Heathrow driverless PODs alongside a GPS enabled land surveillance robot and a Agri-tech drone; driverless vehicles which are set to address mobility challenges across the UK including congestion, emissions and air quality, particularly in high traffic destinations such as airports and shopping centres.

In the last three years, the pods have transported 1.5 million passengers over three million kilometres and saved over 70,000 bus journeys, the equivalent of 100 tonnes of CO2 a year.

KPMG reports that by 2030, the connected driverless vehicle market in the UK alone will be worth £51 billion, have created 320,000 jobs and prevented over 25,000 accidents. Globally, they believe the market to be worth more than £900 billion.

Aled Thomas, Innovation Lead at Climate-KIC, said: “It’s great to see a Climate-KIC supported accelerator company such as Conigital at a high-profile event showcasing their products and technology to potential investors and partners on a Global scale. Conigital is a great example of how Climate-KIC can support ambitious start-ups and SME’s across Europe with funding, mentorship and high profile showcase opportunities such as Innovate UK 2016.”

Jay Gohil, Business Advisor at Enterprise Europe Network Midlands, said: “It is fantastic to see Conigital come so far in such a short space of time. EEN is thrilled to be working with such an ambitious, energetic and focussed team who have benefitted from our brokerage service and access to finance from our network.”

Monique Seth, CEO, Conigital said: “Last year we were invited as keynote speakers by EEN Midlands as an ambitious start-up in the Internet of Things, sensor field, who they were supporting to help broker new partnerships and source funding opportunities. This year we are part of an amazing £2.2 million project with world class partners developing autonomous vehicles in our cities.

“It’s amazing what we have achieved and we could not have done this with the support we have received from our partners and government support agencies such as Climate-KIC, EEN, Innovation Birmingham, Warwick Science Park and, of course, Innovate UK.”

For additional information on Conigital, visit: http://conigital.com/

For additional information on Innovation Birmingham, please visit: http://www.innovationbham.com

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LightwaveRF raises £1m at discount, offers investors same terms

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Hi-tec houses, built by Lagan Homes.
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Pictured, Mike Lord from Lightwave

Innovation Birmingham Campus-based tenant, LightwaveRF, has raised £1 million at a big discount to its recent high as it looks to build its sales efforts on the back of last week’s news its ‘smart home’ products could be controlled via Amazon’s Echo voice control device.

After its shares shot up close to 23.5p on Tuesday, their highest level since January, the board issued 7.69m shares at a price of just 13p, but said it was looking to raise a further £1 million from existing investors at the same terms.

It was pointed out by the company that issue price was a discount of only 7.1% on the average mid-market closing price over the last 30 trading days prior to announcement of the subscription.

Lightwave, which has produced a range of devices such as light dimmers, heat and power controllers that allows users to remotely control conditions via a single mobile phone app, said it plans to use the proceeds to accelerate sales and marketing activities, together with new product development.

“The company is developing very quickly and now through just one app, LightwaveRF can either directly operate its comprehensive range of devices or be powerfully linked with other platforms,” said chief executive Mike Lord.

“We are continuing to add other platforms to this functionality and are building our distribution capability. We are delighted to have attracted additional funding from a number of new investors and that existing shareholders will have the chance to invest further to support the growth of their business.”

If shareholders accept the plans at the next general meeting, Lightwave plans to raise a further £1m through a conditional subscription and an open offer to existing shareholders on the same terms as the subscription, in which major shareholder Committed Capital and certain directors are intending to participate.

Shares in Lightwave, having rising strongly in the three days since announcing the launch of Amazon Alexa voice control for the LightwaveRF product range, fell 19.3% to 16.95p just after midday on Wednesday.

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Climate-KIC recognises West Midlands trailblazers for innovation

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Two West Midlands energy consultants have been selected as two of just 10 people across Europe to be awarded a new certificate for skills in’ Promoting Innovation’.

Developed by Climate-KIC, the EU’s main climate innovation initiative, the new certification gives recognition to those who have developed skills and experience in the field of promoting innovation, as we continue to search for climate-related solutions to global issues. The new certificate is currently undergoing a test phase as part of Climate-KIC’s Certified Professional programme, which also covers ‘Accelerating Transitions’ and ‘Entrepreneurship’.

The two trailblazers are Richard Bubb and Dave Green, Directors of Green Deal Advice Midlands (GDAM), both of whom are already coaches with Climate-KIC’s Pioneers into Practice programme, helping to arrange and deliver international workshops on low energy buildings for the West Midlands programme, based at Innovation Birmingham Campus.

The skills covered in the certificate include analytical and systems thinking, encouraging creativity and the generation of new ideas, as well as evaluating potential solutions, visioning and leadership and adaptation.

Dave Green, Director of GDAM, said: “It is an honour to be one of the first people in Europe to be awarded this new certificate. Up until now the skills of promoting innovation have not been recognised and this will an important first step towards identifying and rewarding those who are encouraging innovative solutions to global issues.”

Richard and Dave will now both be involved in helping to assess further applicants for the Promoting Innovations and Accelerating Transitions certificates, with the Entrepreneurship strand scheduled to be launched in 2017.

Innovation Birmingham’s Climate-KIC West Midlands Regional Innovation Centre is one of six across Europe that are working to develop the low carbon economy within their regions. Each centre is supported through the Climate Knowledge Innovation Community (KIC) project, which receives funding from the European Commission through the European Institute for Innovation and Technology.

To apply for the Promoting Innovations and Accelerating Transition certificates, please visit: http://certifiedprofessional.eu/

For more information on Climate-KIC, visit: www.climate-kic.org

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Breaking Free Group top global digital health awards

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Innovation Birmingham Campus-based Breaking Free Group has been announced as one of just 29 digital healthcare companies from the UK recognised in this year’s Global Health 100 Award list.

Over the past three years, the Global Digital Health 100 has become established as an international benchmark of industry activity for mobile, digital and connected technologies in healthcare. Recognising the top 100 innovators from the world of digital health, editorial staff from the Journal of mHealth spent six months analysing the innovative offerings of hundreds of companies worldwide before settling on their final list of pioneers, which also include leading names such as Babylon Health, Omada Health and Janssen.

Creators of a pioneering digital healthcare platform targeting addictive behaviours, Breaking Free Group’s team of behavioural scientists have created an evidence-based addiction treatment programme enabling people to overcome alcohol and drug dependence. The company also has an impressive portfolio of national clients and major charities including CGL and Turning Point, as well as NHS England who commissioned Breaking Free to deliver the world’s first online healthcare intervention in prisons in 2014.

Clive Bawden, Commercial Director at Breaking Free Group, said: “It has been an incredible year for Breaking Free Group with several major award and client wins under our belts. We are thrilled to be recognised as one of the major players in the healthcare industry, a sector which continues to go from strength-to-strength with the adoption of technology-led products and services.

“Moving ahead into 2017, we have some exciting potential client opportunities, both in the UK and overseas.  We also continue to build our team here in Birmingham, particularly our software engineering team and would welcome approaches from those keen to build a career in this area with a new, innovative company.”

Breaking Free Group are part of Innovation Birmingham Campus’ community of over 1000 entrepreneurs and techies. Significant investment guarantees the Campus benefits from a 30Gbit/s Wi-Fi and broadband service – equalling the fastest internet connection available anywhere in the UK.

For additional information on Breaking Free Group, visit: http://www.breakingfreegroup.com/

For more information on Innovation Birmingham, please visit: http://www.innovationbham.com

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brightLET announces collaboration with national insurance provider

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Disruptive letting technology provider, brightLET, has announced an on-going collaboration with national commercial property insurer, Riverdale Insurance.

A cloud based lettings and property management platform for landlords, tenants and tradesmen, brightLET provides a 360-degree service which enables users to advertise, find a property, communicate and manage tenancies in one secure, online location which is quickly and easily accessible.

Riverdale Insurance, a Midlands based national insurance company, provides cover for a variety of sectors including landlord and tenant building insurance in the residential, commercial and industrial sectors.  Their fully automated insurance system, which provides immediate quotes, will be made available through the brightLET platform from early December.

Shana Owen, Chief Executive Officer at brightLET, said: “This deal with Riverdale Insurance will add value to our management solution offering, enabling landlords to find and source insurance quotes in one, secure location and at a competitive price.

“By integrating our services, we hope to make the property letting and management service considerably more efficient and user friendly for our service users.”

Abid Khan, Senior Partner at Riverdale Insurance, said: “It’s an absolute honour for us to be working with brightLET who, as an up and coming start-up, continue to find new and innovative ways of marketing and managing property. We are pleased to be a part of their journey.”

brightLET are one of 25 start-ups currently on Innovation Birmingham’s Serendip Smart City Incubator, a programme aimed at accelerating the growth of digital start-ups by co-locating them with large corporate partners.

Based at the Campus’ 42,149 sq ft iCentrum building, start-ups can sign up to one of four quarters being delivered by the West Midlands Academic Health Science Network, Transport for West Midlands, Transport Systems Catapult, Open Future_Midlands and Barclays Eagle Labs.

For additional information on brightLET, visit: www.brightlet.com

For more information on the Serendip Smart City Incubator, please visit: https://www.innovationbham.com/start-up-support/#serendip-smart-city-incubator

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Innovation Birmingham CEO awarded Ecosystem Contributor of the Year

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Innovation Birmingham CEO, Dr David Hardman MBE, has received an award from Silicon Canal, recognising his notable contribution towards developing Birmingham’s impressive tech ecosystem.

The Silicon Canal Tech Awards is set to become a major annual event for the city, recognising both fully established and start-up companies as well as the individuals behind them. The not-for-profit CIC, whose mission is to connect, promote and support the tech ecosystem of Greater Birmingham recently welcomed over 230 of Greater Birmingham’s top tech talent to the first award ceremony, held at Digbeth’s Boxxed venue on Wednesday 2nd November 2016.

David Hardman picked up the award for Ecosystem Contributor of the Year, with an additional nine awards presented to notable regional figures by co-host “Alexa”, Amazon’s virtual assistant device.

Moving to Birmingham in 2008 to develop and implement a strategy that would build on the legacy of the third oldest science park in the UK, David Hardman has successfully transformed Aston Science Park into Innovation Birmingham Campus; the region’s leading location for digital and tech companies.

With over 20 years’ experience in knowledge transfer, David Hardman has been working at the interface between applied research and commercial application and exploitation. His expertise and experience has successfully encouraged the creation of appropriate partnerships and infrastructures to promote the development of knowledge-based businesses across a range of sectors including life sciences and, in Birmingham, digital technologies.

Dr David Hardman MBE, CEO of Innovation Birmingham, said: “Ecologies are dynamic systems, whereby if you intervene at any one point, you will influence the whole system. Overcoming one limiting factor without addressing the whole will just lead to other pinch-points. In Birmingham, we are providing a focal point for start-ups and early stage businesses by orchestrating communities where people with ideas, expertise and experience and money can come together to help deliver commercial aspirations based on digital technologies.

“Birmingham’s digital enterprise ecology is thriving but there is still a need to promote what is going on in the city, a task which both Innovation Birmingham and Silicon Canal continue to address in complementary ways.”

The Silicon Canal awards were the second major event held by the organisation this year, following the successful launch of their white paper in May, attended by over 300 key tech and digital influencers and leaders from throughout the city and the UK.

For more information on the Silicon Canal awards, visit: http://siliconcanal.co.uk/

For additional information on Innovation Birmingham, please visit: http://www.innovationbham.com

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Midlands businesses look to Future Markets for export advice

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More than 50 Midlands companies hoping to expand into new markets or who are looking to start trading globally are closer to achieving their ambitions after attending the first Future Markets event this week (8 November, 2016).

The event at iCentrum, Innovation Birmingham Campus, saw export advisers from 20 countries offering advice to businesses that are keen to broaden their export markets. Regions represented included China, India, USA, South Korea, North Africa and Latin America.

Organised by the Department for International Trade (DIT) West Midlands with Barclays Bank and Innovation Birmingham, the Midlands Engine-funded event attracted representatives from 53 companies across a wide range of sectors, such as healthcare, advanced engineering, and fashion and creative industries.

More than 200 one-to-one meetings took place during the day, providing the catalyst for many attendees to begin exploring export opportunities in the countries they were interested in, or to test the waters in markets they might not have considered previously.

Christine Hamilton, interim regional director of the Department for International Trade West Midlands, said: “More businesses are now looking at non-EU export markets and this event gave many of them the impetus they needed to start the exploring further the options open to them.

“We are delighted with the feedback from both the export advisers and the companies who attended. Organising events such as this is part of the comprehensive support that we offer any business that wants to start trading overseas – from advice on accessing markets to providing detailed reports and insight into their target sectors.”

Adam Foster, commercial co-ordinator of Warwick-based Godiva Ltd, the leading independent manufacturer of fire-fighting pumps for the emergency services market, said he attended because the company was investigating opportunities in markets that may not yet be familiar with the brand.

He said: “Being able to speak to representatives from so many key markets at once was the ideal opportunity for us,” he said. “We are experienced exporters, with our products already in use in over 100 countries, but are always keen to further expand our customer base. The meetings we attended were incredibly helpful and will enable us to progress our plans.”

Fiona Homes, of Malvern-based Laronkarn Ltd, which specialises in animal and bird repellents, added: “We are already working with the Cambodian team, following a meeting we had in Birmingham in June, and we are hoping to build on this and look for opportunities elsewhere. Being able to start a conversation with so many markets under one roof was incredibly helpful.”

Any business that wants to find out more about exporting should visit www.exportingisgreat.gov.uk for real-time export opportunities and book an appointment with a local international trade adviser (ITA).

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£3.2 million Innovation Engine project given green light

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The £3.2 million Innovation Engine project – part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) – has been given the go-ahead. The initiative will identify health, sustainability and transport challenges of larger organisations and build local SME and university consortia to develop and deliver solutions.

This three-year initiative is being led by Innovation Birmingham in partnership with Birmingham Community Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust (BCHC), University Hospitals Foundation Trust (UHB); Birmingham City University; University of Birmingham; Amey and West Midlands Combined Authority.

The Innovation Engine builds on the previous project initiated by Birmingham Science City; designed to bring together a team of delivery partners who will uncover challenges in large public and private organisations and drive the development of highly innovative solutions from specialist local SME firms and universities. It will also showcase new technology and present game-changing opportunities to innovative businesses and university departments.

Over a three-year period, the project will assist at least 250 SMEs located within the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GBSLEP) economic area, in creating new products and services, to fulfil the specific challenges larger public and private organisations wish to overcome; so promoting demand-led exploitation of new ideas and technologies and open new market opportunities.

David Hardman, CEO of Innovation Birmingham, said: “With the wealth of skills and knowledge available in the GBSLEP area, the Innovation Engine project will help innovative new businesses by enabling them to create lasting connections with notable business people and the local universities. This will support and enable entrepreneurs and start-ups to develop their ideas and will, ultimately, encourage local growth by strengthening partnerships and so reinforce the region’s reputation for excellence in business and innovation.”

Businesses accepted onto the project will also gain access to the Innovation Birmingham Campus’ 400-strong community of tech and digital entrepreneurs as well as to innovation-specific workshops, guides and facilitated introductions.

Hugo Russell, Project Manager at Innovation Birmingham and the lead for the Innovation Engine project said: “Inspired by the results from the pilot Innovation Engine and Creative Digital Health Solutions (CDHS) projects, the Innovation Engine project will encourage the adoption of new innovations which have the potential to make profound change to existing markets and the exchange of ideas and technologies between sectors. Our six delivery partners are a vital asset to this project as we aim to stimulate new markets and economic growth.”

For additional information on Innovation Engine, please visit: www.innovation-engine.co.uk.

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Service launched to help businesses recruit from diverse backgrounds

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British Asian online lifestyle magazine, DESiblitz.com, has launched a new service aimed at helping businesses to recruit from diverse backgrounds.

Based at the Serendip Smart City Incubator at Innovation Birmingham Campus’ iCentrum building, DESiblitz.com has launched DESIblitz Jobswhich aims to assist employers to harness the benefits of having a diverse workforce.

The new website highlights vacancies to a niche BME audience of over 3 million visitors yearly, typically aged between 18-34 years old, of which 48% are female.

Indi Deol, Director said: “The UK is considered to be one of the most diverse nations in the world and yet this rich diversity is not always reflected in the workplace. There are numerous reports, backed by extensive research, on the business benefits of diversity, inclusion and equality but for many companies this is not reflected in their staffing levels.

“We had been receiving CV’s from our readers regularly for many years and we were sending these onto other organisations who were recruiting and looking to diversity their workforce. Therefore, the idea evolved from this specific supply and demand, when I knew we could add more value to our readers and advertisers with the addition of a diversity focused jobs site to DESIblitz.com.”

DESIblitz has evolved from being an award-winning British Asian online lifestyle magazine, to a brand that now encourages its sponsors/advertisers to recruit to promote diversity and inclusion within workplaces.

By simply having vacancies advertised on DESIblitz Jobs, organisations are breaking down the barriers and preconceived perceptions to improve working environments with a better representation of UK’s cultural mix.

Indi Deol concludes: “With the apprenticeship levy requiring  UK employers who have a pay bill over £3 million a year to invest in apprenticeships, DESIblitz Jobs offers a unique way of attracting British Asians who have not always considered apprenticeships as an obvious route for a career.

With a change in mindset and by breaking down barriers, businesses can take advantages of the strengths offered by ethnically diverse candidates to inject their workforces with new ideas and knowledge to tackle today’s ever changing markets and customers.

DESIblitz Jobs offers a real opportunity for employers to access a hard-to-reach diverse audience for their jobs and thus, to actively recruit candidates from these communities.”

For more information on DESIblitz, visit: http://www.desiblitz.com/

For additional information on the Serendip Smart City Incubator, visit: https://www.innovationbham.com/start-up-support/

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£2m funding delivers stimulus for Birmingham’s entrepreneurs

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Innovation Birmingham, Alta Innovations and the University of Birmingham have secured £2.05m funding from the European Union to deliver business support and incubation services for the city’s hi-tech entrepreneurs and SMEs.

The funding sees Birmingham’s two science parks unite to deliver a structured programme of support and mentoring. The combined offering will build on Innovation Birmingham’s digital and Alta Innovations’ life science communities and facilities, which include start-up expertise and experiences across Entrepreneurs for the Future (E4F), BizzInn, and the University of Birmingham commercialisation teams, in addition to The Birmingham BioHub®, a purpose-built facility that provides entrepreneurs and innovative start-ups with access to affordable laboratory facilities and equipment.

In addition to technical support (whether laboratory or IT), businesses will benefit from allocated entrepreneurs-in-residence and local professional experts, through a combination of one-to-one structured support, workshops and networking events. They will be able to locate themselves within co-working spaces at either the E4F Incubator on the Innovation Birmingham Campus, the focal point for Birmingham’s tech/digital community or the BizzInn Incubator (on the Birmingham Research Park, at the heart of the Edgbaston Medical Quarter, adjacent to the University of Birmingham). Support will be provided to eligible companies free of charge, typically over a period of up to nine months, thanks to the support of the European Regional Development Fund.

Katharine Fuller, Head of Projects at Innovation Birmingham, said: “With over 14,152 companies launched in Birmingham last year alone, the region continues to be a hotspot for entrepreneurialism and, with a large, skilled and youthful workforce, established infrastructure and strong digital connectivity, it is vital that we continue facilitate and support new and existing talent by providing the necessary conditions for them to thrive.

“This funding will go some way towards achieving this goal and BizzInn will be a fantastic addition in delivering the next phase of this project.”

David Coleman, Head of Enterprise Acceleration at the University of Birmingham, said: “Through the close collaboration of our respective hi-tech support programmes, we’re providing stronger and more identifiable places for hi-tech entrepreneurs and businesses in Birmingham to access support.  Our interventions will help teams at all stages, from proving the viability of their concept, to building teams and relevant supplier or customer contacts, to attracting finance.”

Since the launch of the Entrepreneurs for the Future programme in November 2009, over 136 tech start-ups have been created, with £12.3 million of investment secured during initial funding rounds. As part of the incubator programme, qualifying innovative start-ups receive up to nine months’ office space, mentoring, use of video conferencing equipment and meeting room and superfast broadband at the Innovation Birmingham Campus.

For more information on E4f, please visit: www.e4f.co.uk

For additional information on Innovation Birmingham, visit: http://www.innovationbham.com

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Innovation Birmingham appoints Beatfreeks for new digital – tech art collaboration

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Innovation Birmingham has partnered with creative youth engagement agency, Beatfreeks, to deliver a new art meets tech ‘facilitator’.

The research project, funded by Arts Council England, is shaping a new initiative that will drive innovation in the region by supporting new cross-sector talent focussed and delivered at the Innovation Birmingham Campus’. The programme’s activities will create a wider community to promote innovation and at the same time expand Innovation Birmingham’s existing business support out to the digital arts community.

The new offering will also develop a ‘business engine’ to promote greater sustainability to the start-ups digital arts community whilst exploring new business avenues and bring the resulting digital arts to wider audiences.

Founded in February 2013, Beatfreeks is an award winning Birmingham-based creative youth engagement agency which develops people, ideas and spaces through creativity.  The collaboration also includes Doink, an exciting new start-up, which combines art, research and technology to collect and communicate data creatively to help people across sectors make better decisions.

This partnership will launch with an event at the Campus’ iCentrum building, entitled ‘The Art of the Possible’ on Thursday 27th October from 12.30pm. The programme will include a talk from Director of Culture Central, Gary Topp on how these plans feed into the wider ‘young, diverse and digital’ agenda in the Greater Birmingham region, as well as workshops with Birmingham Open Media. There will also be a performance from digital artist, Antonio Roberts, with singer Namiwa Jazz and talks from Birmingham Children’s Hospital on their ideas for digital input into The Big Sleuth in 2017 and a demonstration of ‘projection mapping’ from Leon Trimble.

Dr David Hardman, CEO of Innovation Birmingham, said: “Technologists can benefit from the divergent creativity of the arts and artists, as it complements the convergent approaches they take to their technology and business delivery.

“This is an exciting new project bringing together the region’s young artists and technologists as we aim to drive a significantly wider social impact with this class-leading programme. It will expand the reach of the Innovation Birmingham Campus, promoting and maximising the commercial innovation potential in the region – a true hub of creative innovation. As a first step we are turning our flagship building, iCentrum, into a digital gallery for the region’s talent on the 27th October.”

Anisa Haghdadi, Founder and CEO of Beatfreeks and Doink, said: “With support from Arts Council England, we have been mapping arts and tech nationally, understanding what artists need and want through co-design sessions, and visiting examples of best practice, we will share our learnings and findings in an attempt to add to collective knowledge in this area.

“Working with Innovation Birmingham we aim to launch our proposed plans for an art meets tech ‘facilitator’ in 2017. At the event we will discuss these plans and we look forward to working with Innovation Birmingham to further drive innovation in the region by supporting new talent.”

To attend the launch event, visit: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/the-art-of-the-possible-arts-and-tech-birmingham-tickets-28362156975

For more information on Innovation Birmingham, please visit: http://www.innovationbham.com

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Scaleup 2016 expo set to help British businesses grow

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The mammoth ScaleUp 2016 expo is set to bring together Britain’s top entrepreneurs to help younger, ambitious businesses, get to the next level.

Hundreds of founders are expected to attend the event on November 3, organised by small business support group Enterprise Nation and in collaboration with Sherry Coutu’s ScaleUp Institute and the Institute of Chartered Accountants, England and Wales (ICAEW).

ScaleUp 2016 will hear from entrepreneurs like Tim Robinson, from delivery solution Doddle, Jimmy Cregan, the force behind Jimmy’s Iced Coffee and Irene Graham from ScaleUp Institute’s board on the vision of the eco-system Britain needs to develop in order to achieve and retain higher level firms.

There will also be a chance to hear from Enterprise Nation founder Emma Jones, MBE, the Government’s SME Crown Representative.

“Understanding what the issues are and that there is a solution is a critical step in helping businesses to expand profitability, and in turn creating employment and economic growth in Britain.”

Mark Hart, professor of small business & entrepreneurship at Aston Business School, and deputy director of the national Enterprise Research Centre (ERC), said: “We are delighted to host the Scale Up 2016 at Aston University.

“Local economies thrive when ambitious, innovative and competitive companies are given the right environment to succeed. By putting specific support and education in place to enhance leadership and entrepreneurial skills, we can create that environment, and increase the number of high-growth firms which we know from our research at the ERC have a major impact on growth and jobs across the country.”

For more information or to sign-up, visit: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/scaleup-2016-tickets-27541273691

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