Birmingham City Council, UK

Birmingham City Council has taken a strong lead with innovation, science and technology. It also has a successful track record of support for Small to Medium sized Enterprises to achieve economic growth, across all growth sectors. The economic crisis has given Birmingham City Council many challenges in the goal of delivering a sustainable economy. The role of Local Government has therefore become critical in fulfilling the objectives of the Lisbon Agenda and the EU 2020 strategy. Birmingham’s Council Business Plan is a high level statement of intent, setting out the ambition for the forthcoming years and delivering one of its key priorities, to “succeed economically”.

Birmingham City Council has also played an important role in pan-European policy-making groups such as Eurocities and Errin. It is a key stakeholder in the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership, a public/private partnership to help strengthen local economies, encourage economic development and enterprise and improve skills across the region.

Birmingham City Council promotes innovation through incubator space for high-tech businesses, offers support and networks to specific sectors and access to finance to new ventures. For example, through local partners such as Birmingham Science Park Aston,  with its e4f incubator programme e4f.incubator, dedicated to help the next generation of tech start-ups deliver commercial success; and Oxygen Accelerator programme, which invests in technology start-ups and develop them into sustainable companies. Also, through ground-breaking activities such as procurement models like the finditinbirmingham portal, and financial instruments to provide access to finance for SMEs.

Birmingham City Council’s Business Development and Innovation team has a proven track record of developing and delivering initiatives including:

• Business focused and sector based support programmes;
• Successfully delivering European funded projects with transnational partners;
• Successfully leading and managing the delivery of £2m High Street Recovery Scheme for the retail sector;
• Developed and delivered BSEEN (Birmingham Skills for Enterprise and Employability Network), graduate entrepreneurship opportunities in partnership with Aston University, the University of Birmingham and Birmingham City University.

Our current portfolio includes:

• £3m European funded projects showcasing best practice in business innovation and networking;
• ERDF funded Design Space programme offering shared incubator support for jewellery designer makers;
• A new £8m ERDF funded GBSLEP Business Development Programme which will provide comprehensive business support to existing SMEs;
• Designing the Birmingham Company Engagement Programme involving the top companies in the City.

We believe that participating in CCIC, with the quality of the partners involved, will enable us to learn from best practice elsewhere. The study visits will provide a refreshing perspective for Birmingham City Council to learn from best practices, knowledge transfer and exchange of experience. By hosting and participating in visits, partners will learn from each other by examining the various instruments and organisational structures set up to support policy. This will, in turn, stimulate innovative solutions for the challenges that our city and project partners are facing.