Innovation Birmingham’s Entrepreneurs for the Future programme top three finalist for European Smart Jobs Award

Innovation Birmingham’s Entrepreneurs for the Future start-up support programme made it to the finals of the Eurocities Award. The Award ceremony took place in Ghent, Belgium on 27th November 2013.

Birmingham competed with Brighton’s Employability Advice and Careers Hut, and with Vienna’s ‘SMART’ Innovation and Entrepreneurship programme for the Eurocities ‘Smart Jobs’ Award, with Brighton clinching first place.

Birmingham’s Entrepreneurs for the Future initiative, which is run from Birmingham Science Park Aston’s Innovation Birmingham Campus, has had great success in supporting local tech entrepreneurs in developing and growing their start-up businesses. In the four years since the programme was established, over 85 innovative tech start-ups have benefitted, with over 150 new employee and director positions created, and more than £2.5 million of investment secured during initial funding rounds. The project is supported by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

The Eurocities movement was founded in 1986 by Sir Albert Bore and the mayors of Barcelona, Frankfurt, Lyon, Milan and Rotterdam. Today it comprises the local governments of over 130 of Europe’s largest cities and 40 partner cities. The movement works to influence European Union policies and provide a forum for members to share ideas and knowledge. Cllr Sir Albert Bore, Leader, Birmingham City Council was in attendance at the event in Ghent.

Sir Albert Bore, Leader, Birmingham City Council said: “Innovation Birmingham’s Entrepreneurs for the Future programme is a unique and important asset to this city, as it gives our local talented tech entrepreneurs a place to grow and develop their business. The success of the start-up companies is a real credit to the project and it is tremendously good news for Birmingham to see this project now being recognised as one of the best on a European scale.”

Dr David Hardman MBE, CEO of Innovation Birmingham said: “The Eurocities Awards are very prestigious and I am thrilled the judges shortlisted our Entrepreneurs for the Future programme in the top three. Over the past four years, we have worked to build and maintain the number of innovative tech start-ups that qualify for the six months of structured business incubation support that we provide for free.

“Having a centre such as this to nurture tech start-ups – giving them the best possible chance of commercial success – is a crucial aspect of what a major city should be doing to drive its knowledge economy and economic development. I am delighted the Entrepreneurs for the Future centre is being recognised as a real asset to Birmingham.”

A total of three awards were presented on 27th November at the Eurocities event in Ghent. In addition to the ‘Smart Jobs’ award that Birmingham competed for, prizes were also awarded to European city projects in the ‘Smart Governance’ and ‘Smart Living’ categories.

There were 26 entries for the awards and the shortlist was drawn up by an independent jury, composed of Freya van den Bossche, Flemish Minister for Cities, Housing, Energy and the Social Economy; Stephen Clark, Head of Web Communications at the European Parliament; Cheryl Miller, Executive Director of Zen Digital Europe; Belgium political journalist Rob Heirbaut; and Professor Dr Lieven De Marez from the University of Ghent.

As a specialist incubator, the support the Entrepreneurs for the Future centre can offer tech start-ups in the early months can make all the difference between a young business succeeding or failing. Start-ups receive a personal programme of mentoring and access to finance, together with free office space, telecoms, meeting rooms and superfast broadband for the first six months. In addition, the entrepreneurs can attend a wide range of networking events and presentations at the Innovation Birmingham Campus for free. The very nature of being based in a facility that has such a strong cluster of technology firms creates significant opportunities to make new contacts and collaborate on projects.

Innovation Birmingham has designed the Entrepreneurs for the Future programme in order to capture serial entrepreneurs – such as the team behind mobile payment app 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.

The video entry which got Entrepreneurs for the Future through to the finals of the Eurocities awards is viewable here:  http://e4f.co.uk

More information on the Awards is available here: http://www.eurocities2013.eu/

For more information on Entrepreneurs for the Future, please visit www.e4f.co.uk

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