Leading organisations in the transport and construction sectors have launched a new incubation programme to accelerate the growth of innovative SMEs and start-ups in the region, and help Birmingham strive towards affirming its status as a smart city.
Partners from the Midland Metro Alliance, including Colas Rail, Colas UK Ltd, Bouygues UK and Bouygues Energies & Services, have combined their sector-specific commercial networks with the business incubation capabilities of leading digital campus Innovation Birmingham and launched the ‘Matching Up’ programme.
Presenting a significant opportunity for innovative technology businesses, the new programme hosted at Innovation Birmingham’s flagship iCentrum building will be accepting applications from SMEs and start-ups until May 5th. Cliff Dennett, Head of Business Development at Innovation Birmingham said:
“We are thrilled to be expanding the breadth of business support on offer at Innovation Birmingham through the Matching Up programme. Incorporating industry leaders from the transport and construction sectors into the incubator will provide a key pathway for businesses to test and implement new ideas, grow, and enhance their visibility alongside reputable brands.”
As well as speeding up company development, allowing start-ups to test innovative business models and implement prototypes in a real industry context, Matching Up will also provide successful applicants with a collaborative hot-desk package at Innovation Birmingham’s multi-million-pound iCentrum building.
Once the application window has closed at the start of May, businesses will be “matched up” within a nine-week assessment period, where each project partner will identify suitable innovations to help develop.
Start-ups and SMEs that are successfully “matched” can then benefit from a three-month collaboration process, where innovations will be refined and adapted to the Matching Up requirements alongside a project partner, with the best ideas to be showcased at a pitch day in front of the partners and Innovation Birmingham. Steve Green, Knowledge Manager at Bouygues UK said:
“A key way for large organisations to develop is through embracing and driving innovation. The Matching Up incubation programme launched with the industry partners and Innovation Birmingham provides the ideal arena for this to happen.
“Innovation, collaboration and supporting local communities in the places in which we work are hugely important to the Bouygues businesses in the UK, making this partnership with Innovation Birmingham is something we are particularly proud to be launching.”
Businesses will be encouraged to explore one of eight specialist disciplines within the programme, ranging from augmented reality and advertising, to big data, artificial intelligence and the development of healthier communities. This provides start-ups and SMEs with a chance to specialise in a particular area within the project.
The challenge partners, along with Innovation Birmingham, officially launched the programme last week (18th April) at a packed-out iCentrum, outlining the application process and highlighting the opportunity available to start-ups and SMEs.
The event offered a chance to meet all five of the programme partners to discuss ideas and how the programme can fulfil business needs. Steve Green added:
“The programme is stimulating the growth of small to medium sized enterprises through encouraging the development of pioneering ideas, services and products to disrupt the transport and construction industries. We want to stay at the forefront of new thinking in these key sectors to continue making a difference on a regional, national and international scale.”
Due to a high level of responses, the industry partners and Innovation Birmingham are urging all interested innovators to respond promptly to the call for proposals through the Matching Up portal.