A comprehensive review of Innovation Birmingham’s business plan, carried out by a UK Science Park Association (UKSPA) lead assessor, has recognised the organisation as a catalyst to drive forward Birmingham’s Smart City aspirations.
The UKSPA Aspire framework assesses science parks and innovation centres under criteria including; purpose and strategy; governance; business case/plan; policies and local context. Over a year has now passed since the restructure of the 14 acre Birmingham City Council-owned Birmingham Science Park Aston to create the Innovation Birmingham Campus. The assessment has concluded that once the aims and objectives expressed in Innovation Birmingham’s business plan are realised, a very high standard will have been set within the science park movement – both nationally and internationally – providing a benchmark to follow.
Paul Wright, CEO of UKSPA said: “The Aspire review process delivers a comprehensive assessment of science parks and innovation centres, validating and where necessary challenging business models, focus, leadership and direction. This assessment, which has focused on the past five years, together with Innovation Birmingham’s strategic development plans, has evidenced transformational change. The significant activity carried out to restructure the organisation has created a financially viable management vehicle, through which to deliver a next generation science park that Greater Birmingham can be incredibly proud of.”
In relation to Innovation Birmingham’s development plans – particularly the first phase of development, being the £7.5million iCentrumTM building, which is currently being considered by Birmingham City Council’s planning process – the Aspire review highlighted that new development was essential to advance innovative idea generation and global reach.
“It is essential to create an environment that equips technology entrepreneurs with the latest communications tools. The eye-catching iCentrumTM building will be a multi-functional embodiment of the continual advances within the digital arena. Positioning the Innovation Birmingham Campus to take a leading role in galvanising the local knowledge economy will provide a powerful benchmark for others to follow,” said UKSPA’s lead assessor, Nigel Halford, the immediate past head of Plymouth Science Park.
Individual meetings with each member of Innovation Birmingham’s six-strong leadership team were carried out as part of the Aspire review process. Board members and representatives from Greater Birmingham & Solihull’s Local Enterprise Partnership and Birmingham City Council were also interviewed.
Dr David Hardman MBE, CEO of Innovation Birmingham said: “Receiving the Aspire accreditation has validated our direction of travel at a time when we’re about to commence with new development activity here for the first time in 13 years.
“The recent positive uptake and investment in central Birmingham’s commercial property market creates a confident backdrop for us to commence with our speculative iCentrumTM development. However, what we also now have is a very pleasing benchmark assessment, setting us in context of the burgeoning UK science park sector.”