Birmingham a Greener, Fairer, More Sustainable and Interconnected City

Business Insights

Set to transform Birmingham city centre, the new 2040 vision laid out by Birmingham City Council introduces a greener, fairer, more sustainable and interconnected city within the next twenty years.

The vision encourages and supports Birmingham’s continuing transformation into a world class city. It covers every aspect of the built environment and focuses on improved connectivity across the city, rethinking the city centre as interconnected fifteen minute neighbourhoods.

The vision also sees the establishment of four key quarters within the city, including the Creative Quarter in Digbeth, set to become a new hub for filmmakers and artists; and the Knowledge Quarter, the home of Aston and Birmingham City Universities, a hub for the city’s growing digital tech sector and the site of HS2’s Curzon Street Station.

Whilst all of this certainly gives Birmingham’s residents, workers and visitors something to look forward to, lots of investment and activity is already well underway, creating a wealth of opportunity.

In a city ranked ‘startup capital’ for seven consecutive years with over 3000 tech businesses generating around £2billion for the local economy, it is an important time for the city and the wider UK economy too.

David Hardman, Managing Director, Bruntwood SciTech - Birmingham discusses what’s happening in the city right now and why this is such a great opportunity for the city and the region…

“With one of the youngest and most diverse populations in the UK, Birmingham has a wealth of skills and talent, particularly when it comes to the life sciences and digital technology sectors. 12 Universities are home to 50 tech-related centres of excellence, producing over 70,000 graduates per year.

The planned arrival of HS2 has also helped to provide a catalytic boost for the economic renewal of the Birmingham City region economy. The site of the Curzon Street Station, situated at the boundary between Birmingham's Knowledge Quarter and the Digbeth Creative Quarter will provide a fully connected transport hub, enhancing the already great physical connectivity the city enjoys with London, the south east and the rest of the country.

Home to over 11 of the city’s world-leading academic, clinical and cultural institutions such as Birmingham Children’s Hospital, Aston University, Birmingham City University and the National College for Advanced Transport and Infrastructure, Birmingham’s new Knowledge Quarter is emerging as a place.

It signifies an important alliance that will focus on growing the city’s knowledge economy, creating a guiding ‘force’ to orchestrate activities to promote knowledge gain, exchange and application to drive innovation ensuring individuals do not find themselves isolated and uncertain where to turn to secure the support they need to deliver their commercial aspirations.

It will catalyse the translation of academic research from the universities, making access to research and development more readily available for commercial companies and attracting inward investment to the area. It will also provide opportunities for the local citizens to engage with a thriving knowledge economy.

In the heart of the Knowledge Quarter is the Innovation Birmingham Campus - the region’s home for digital tech; part of the West Midlands 5G testbed and already home to over 150 disruptive digital and tech businesses. Here, start-ups, scale ups and SMEs are connected to and co-located with large commercial and public sector partners such as the West Midlands Academic Health Science Network, Balfour Beatty, Bouygues and HS2, working in a challenge-led environment where market needs spark innovation requirements to create and deliver new products and services.

5PRING, the UK’s first 5G commercial applications accelerator is also located at the Campus. Led by telecoms giant Telefonica, in partnership with Wayra, Digital Catapult and Deloitte, 5PRING works with startups, sector experts and enterprise organisations to transform the way we live and work by leveraging the power of 5G, providing businesses with unique access to 5G technologies which are not yet commercially available.

The recently announced development of Enterprise Wharf will provide an additional 120,000 sq ft of new high quality commercial workspace, with landscaped canalside access and private roof terrace for users to enjoy. It will offer an innately tech enabled environment suitable for the ambitious tech companies of tomorrow. It will also be Birmingham’s first smart-enabled building, bringing ‘smart’ Building Management System, HVAC, lighting, CCTV and green energy data to life through a visual data dashboard process, helping occupants to drive productivity, increase efficiency, reduce cost and improves user experience by connecting the building to IoT sensors, people and processes.

Enterprise Wharf will help to support inward investment into the region, providing space for large digital and tech businesses specialising in the worlds of AI, VR, edtech, sporttech, fintech, legaltech and others.

And now, as Birmingham gets ready to welcome the Commonwealth Games in 2022, this city and the wider region has the perfect opportunity to stand out on a global stage and showcase it’s strengths in culture, diversity, tech, science and innovation. The future is certainly bright for Birmingham and we can’t wait to see this city thrive in years to come."

David Hardman is Managing Director- Bruntwood SciTech- Birmingham.