New chair appointed as Innovation Birmingham prepares for development work

A new private sector chair – Professor David Lock QC – takes to the helm at Innovation Birmingham, as the planning application for the iCentrumTM building is prepared. The new chair has been selected by Birmingham City Council, which has owned the Innovation Birmingham Campus and the wider Birmingham Science Park Aston in its entirety since 2008.

David Lock leads the Public and Administrative Law group for No5 Chambers across its London, Bristol and Birmingham offices. He was named ‘Barrister of the Year’ in 2011 by Birmingham Law Society. Earlier this year, he was appointed as a board director of Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust, Birmingham.

David was a non-executive director with legal technology company, Searchflow, for five years, during which time the annual turnover grew from circa £200,000 to £150 million. He has also served as a non-executive director in a range of other successful commercial companies.

After his first 12 years at the Bar in Birmingham, in 1997 he was elected as the Member of Parliament for Wyre Forest and was appointed to be a Minister at the Lord Chancellor’s Department from 1999 to 2001. David chaired the National Crime Squad and National Criminal Intelligence Service and was concerned with the merger of those bodies to become the Serious Organised Crime Agency. He has also served as a local Councillor. In 2003 he returned to legal practice, heading up healthcare law at Mills & Reeve. In 2008, David returned to practice at the Bar, becoming a Silk in 2011.

Professor David Lock QC, Chair of Innovation Birmingham said: “I am honoured to have been selected to work with the board, CEO David Hardman, and the Innovation Birmingham team to drive forward with the development of the organisation and in particular, the iCentrumTM building and the rest of the £35 million Digital Plaza scheme. There are also opportunities to deliver more European-funded projects and expand on the ongoing success of the Entrepreneurs for the Future centre, creating new high value jobs for Birmingham.”

David Lock continued: “I hope to use my background in law, local and national politics, as well as my experience as a non-executive director to add a new dynamic to Innovation Birmingham, which has successfully restructured to enable the Digital Plaza development to be at the stage it is now at, with a planning application currently being prepared.”

The Digital Plaza site is accessed off Holt Street/Enterprise Way and A38 Aston Expressway and is a gateway to the Eastside learning and knowledge quarter. This vacant development plot, which is part of the Innovation Birmingham Campus, is one of 26 sites covered by Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP’s Enterprise Zone. The Digital Plaza will be one of the first Enterprise Zone developments to get underway and will enable its future occupiers to benefit from Business Rates relief. The first new Digital Plaza building will be the circa £8m iCentrumTM building, which will include a ground-breaking software development playground and a 10,000 sq ft tech incubation facility.

In advance of construction work getting underway on the Digital Plaza development, a 2Gbit/s diverse internet transit has been installed across the Innovation Birmingham Campus and the wider 14 acre Birmingham Science Park Aston estate.

Dr David Hardman MBE, CEO of Innovation Birmingham said: “Having a chair whose pedigree combines politics with a resounding career as a barrister is ideal, as we embark on an exciting new era of development activity. I look forward to active engagement with David to continue the progress we have made over recent years.

“Innovation Birmingham is actively working to promote and drive the Smart City agenda and nurture relationships with international stakeholders. This is key to raising the profile of Birmingham as a tech city, which will encourage more tech start-ups to be born here and attract investment.”

The 85th innovative tech start-up has recently enrolled at Innovation Birmingham’s Entrepreneurs for the Future centre. The business incubation programme has been running for four years, and to date the start-ups have secured over £2.5 million of investment during initial funding rounds. Entrepreneurs for the Future is Innovation Birmingham’s flagship tech business incubation initiative, supported by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). The start-ups that the programme has incubated have created over 150 new employee and director positions since November 2009.

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

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