Birmingham is a city that’s undergone great change over the past few decades. As the city has risen out of its deep manufacturing past, it is a place increasingly seen as playing a major role in securing the UK’s place as a leader in technology services.
While London often wins the plaudits, it’s Birmingham that is perhaps the real jewel in the country’s tech crown. Birmingham is not only a transformed city, architecture-wise, it’s also been rejuvenated when it comes to the creative industries. We take a look at why startups are
attracted to Birmingham’s tech scene.
The stats don’t lie
Let’s start by looking at some figures. Birmingham is one of the UK’s major tech hubs:
- Over 6,000 tech firms employ more than 38,000 people
- Thousands of students study computer science or business in the city each year
- Birmingham’s ‘digital GVA’ – the value of the digital goods and services the city produces – is £1.4 billion
- The average digital salary is £43,718
What’s more, Birmingham is a young, diverse city. “Under 25’s make up 40 per cent of the population – it’s perhaps the youngest city in Europe,” said Anita Bhalla, chair of the Creative City Partnership, the body set up to promote the development of jobs and wealth in the city.
Birmingham is building on its automotive presence to develop new, smart tech products like drones and intelligent buildings. Scores of universities, a good and affordable quality of life and the planned HS2 rail link are all combining to make Birmingham an attractive place to do business.
Low costs and great quality of life
Startups moving to Birmingham will almost certainly enjoy cheaper overheads than if they decide to base themselves in, say, London. Silicon Canal, which represents Birmingham’s tech scene and aims to to create a world-class tech ecosystem there, says the average rent for a
two-bed flat in Birmingham is £665 versus a whopping £1,516 in London. The group also cited fashion retailer ASOS, which recently opened an office in Birmingham and enjoyed 50 per cent lower costs for tech talent compared to London.
What’s more, Birmingham is a great place to live — it has more trees than Paris, more miles of canal than Venice, lots of fantastic museums and a number of Michelin-starred restaurants.
Growing a business can be tough. For every startup success story, there’s a startup disaster story, and even the successes are not without their challenges. That’s why, when nurturing a startup, it pays to have options. Birmingham is a city that caters for fledgling businesses in all
sorts of ways. It has thousands of freelancers specialising in everything from business development to copywriting. It has web hosting firms offering specific startup packages to help new firms get started. And businesses also have access to things like laptop hire so they can
lease, rather than buy outright, essential IT equipment to help get them moving.
Local networks and support
Local networks, such as the aforementioned Silicon Canal, and Innovation Birmingham, are key players in promoting Birmingham as a tech cluster, encouraging investment and job creation. There is also real, tangible financial support available from Finance Birmingham, who provide loan funding and equity finance of between £250,000 and £2 million. Isn’t it time you made the move?