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RWE npower set up IoT incubator at iCentrum

RWE npower set up IoT incubator at iCentrum

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RWE and UK subsidiary npower has set up a new 2,500 sq ft Internet of Things incubator in Innovation Birmingham’s new £8m iCentrum building.

The RWE npower Internet of Things incubator will be energy focused, accelerating the growth of young businesses with a tech product or service offering in the markets of connected smart homes, intelligent energy and the internet of things marketplace.

The new facility will launch when iCentrum, located off the A38M Aston Expressway, opens in March 2016. 

Neil Pennington, Director Innovation for RWE npower, said: “In RWE we have recognised the power of open innovation to drive fundamental change in the future energy system.  We already have outposts in Silicon Valley, Tel Aviv and Berlin; launching our first ever incubator in the UK is a hugely exciting move for the business and cements the UK as a key part of our Europe-wide strategy. npower has offices in Oldbury, Burton and Worcester and our UK innovation team is based in Solihull, which means it’s particularly relevant for us to partner with Innovation Birmingham.

“People are being informed by the personalised experiences they receive from today’s ever changing and advancing retail marketplace. We need to deliver exceptional new products and services in intelligent energy to our 23 million-strong European customer base.  Innovation is how we will win new customers become more relevant to the lives of our existing customers and significantly expand - both for domestic and corporate business. We are really excited to working with fresh-thinking tech start-ups and sharing ideas and opportunities across Europe and beyond.”

Innovation Birmingham’s business mentors will also work in the Internet of Things incubator, offering insight into innovation challenges facing the energy industry.

Other sector-specific quarters to be located at iCentrum are Digital Heath, Finance and Intelligent Mobility – the latter of which will be jointly delivered by Centro and the Transport Systems Catapult. Innovation Birmingham will announce the remaining two partners before the end of 2015.

Dr David Hardman, CEO of Innovation Birmingham, said: “Construction work started on iCentrum in January and is on schedule to complete on time and on budget in March 2016. It is being developed and funded speculatively as a tech incubator for the generation of entrepreneurs that is growing up with social media, 3D printing and cloud-based business solutions.

“Sitting at the heart of the new building will be Serendip; a 10,000 sq ft incubation centre purpose-designed to nurture relationships between corporate executives and entrepreneurs. I am delighted that an international company of the size and scale of RWE npower will be delivering the Internet of Things incubator. The opportunities that early stage companies in this sector will be able to access by being based in this new facility are invaluable, and the potential for us to link to RWE’s Berlin incubator will further extend this community of interest. The objective is to create many new high value jobs in high-growth businesses right here in Birmingham.”  

iCentrum is being funded through a £7.5m commercial loan, agreed with Birmingham City Council, to cover the main construction and fit-out costs. In addition, Innovation Birmingham secured funding from the GBSLEP’s Enterprise Zone’s Site Development and Access Fund to create additional co-working space in the new building. 

iCentrum will provide space for 400 high-value skilled tech jobs at any one time, generating £25 million of GVA to the local economy per annum. The building was one of the first to start on site within the GBSLEP’s Enterprise Zone, which features 30 sites within central Birmingham.

Photograph shows Dr David Hardman (left), CEO of Innovation Birmingham, with Neil Pennington, Director of Innovation, and Karen Percy, Head of External Innovation, both from RWE npower




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