Birmingham is second only to London in the start-up league table, a position that reflects the history of innovation and a thriving regional economy. Of course, as the second largest city we should expect to be in this position. Cities with more people are proven to come up with more innovative ideas per head that smaller cities – more connections and opportunities exist in large cities as innovation is a contact sport.
The ‘Festival of Code’, which culminated at the ICC in early August, celebrated the best digital innovations from 8-16 year olds. Meanwhile, the thriving community of early-stage and growing tech businesses based at the Innovation Birmingham Campus is a huge asset to this city.
But to create economic impact, the majority of tech start-ups must grow, as growth and longevity aid the long-term health of the economy. Growth may of course be as much in turnover as in job creation, as many global tech businesses increasing only employ 10’s of people. However, Birmingham could – and indeed should – boast that is has much larger tech businesses employing hundreds-thousands.
We need these businesses to join, preferably help lead, the Birmingham tech/knowledge economy. Global success stories must lead the way in convincing the world that Birmingham is a knowledge-based tech city.
On the face of it this is a call for altruism, but in reality it’s not. A city that can demonstrate career opportunities exist across the complete scale range will attract and retain talent. For large companies this equates to fewer recruitment problems; for the entrepreneurs talent helps them deliver their aspirations; for talented individuals career tracks can be demonstrated; and for those interested in start-ups, more starts reduces personal risk in that if one company fails, they can move down the road to the next opportunity.
It’s all about stability – the foundation of which is talent – people with ideas, expertise and experience being attracted and retained by the city of Birmingham.