Innovation Birmingham held a milestone event for 150 people last night to celebrate the 100th tech start-up to enrol onto the Entrepreneurs for the Future programme.
Part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund and Innovation Birmingham, the flagship project, which was launched in November 2009, has seen its tech start-ups secure over £4 million in initial funding rounds. 170 skilled jobs have been created as a result.
The focus of the event was presentations from the Entrepreneurs for the Future alumni and current cohort of start-ups going through the six month incubation process. The programme, which is about providing a supportive environment for tech start-ups to grow and develop their businesses, includes dedicated one-to-one mentoring with an assigned Entrepreneur in Residence. Other aspects of the offer include a variety of events and workshops delivered by leading Birmingham professionals to aid commerciality, access to finance, free co-working space, meeting rooms, telephone and wifi. The total package has a monetary value of £10,000, but is free for qualifying innovative tech start-ups.
Nick Holzherr, serial entrepreneur and CEO of Whisk.com said: “I was the first to enrol onto the Entrepreneurs for the Future programme, with a tech business that continues to run today. Had it not been for the support I received, I think I may have left Birmingham and opted for a career in banking.
“Having been running Whisk.com from a building next to the Entrepreneurs for the Future centre for over two years, I’m grateful for everything I learnt while on the programme. Birmingham has been brilliant for us – we’ve been able to afford and attract a technically highly skilled team to build a product that we’re offering to markets around the world.”
The other speakers were Cliff Dennett, CEO of Soshi Games, the 23rd tech start-up to join the programme; David Roberts, Co-founder of Droplet, the 54th start-up; Ben Nimmo, Founder of SocialSignIn, the 60th to join; and Steve Willey, Co-founder of Incus Games, the 88th tech start-up.
Dr David Hardman MBE, CEO of Innovation Birmingham said: “The Entrepreneurs for the Future centre and the wider activities across the Innovation Birmingham Campus create a dynamic innovation ecology for Birmingham and the region. This is what a ‘tech city’ is all about. We are actively nurturing tech start-ups and success is breeding success.
“The Entrepreneurs for the Future centre delivers incubation through connections and collaborations, which frequently results in inter-company collaborations as like-minded peers opt to work together. Anyone who visits can immediately see the immense power of clustering. The wider Innovation Birmingham Campus provides space and additional facilities for growing tech companies. Indeed, the ability to upscale to a bigger office in quick and simple fashion – without all the hassles of changing address – aids and catalyses faster growth.”
When start-ups enrol onto the Entrepreneurs for the Future programme, they are assigned one of three Entrepreneurs in Residence; John Cooke and Alistair Fox are both experienced sales and marketing professionals within the tech industry, while Clive Bawden, the founder of Look After Business, previously Business Development Director of international corporate finance firm Catalyst, brings a finance perspective to the offering.
Innovation Birmingham has designed its tech incubation programme in order to capture serial entrepreneurs – such as the team behind Droplet – who as individuals are working on more than one project concurrently. The Innovation Birmingham Campus is open 24/7, enabling people to work flexibly, or cram in the hours when needed.