Cross Innovation Report A Local Implementation Plan For Birmingham
CROSS INNOVATION: A LOCAL IMPLEMENTATION PLAN FOR BIRMINGHAM 1) CROSS INNOVATION AND ITS IMPORTANCE Cross innovation is typically defined as the utilisation of the skills and abilities of the creative sector to kick start innovation in the wider economy, both in private sector products, public sector services and potentially in new skill set developments. More specifically for the project, we understand cross innovation as a process by which creative industries share information, collaborate and work with other growth sectors to promote new thinking. The strategic context is explored later in this Local Implementation Plan (LIP) but it is fair to say both the EU and the UK recognise the role of the creative and cultural sector in innovation. It is a powerful sector in its own right, but they acknowledge the significant positive spillover effects of linking the Creative and Cultural Industries to other sectors to create growth. The European Commission poses the question; ‘How to accelerate the positive spill‐over effects that culture and the creative industries can produce on the wider economy and society’ 1 The emphasis must be on breaking down the silos so that new technology, different business models and approaches and the creativity of the CCI sector can add value to other sectors, particularly growth sectors. This is what this plan seeks to explore and put forward some ideas for Greater Birmingham.2 2) THE ROLE OF THIS PLAN This plan is seeking to distil from the work of the Cross Innovation project; • • •
What is best/good practice from the partner cities drawn from across Europe? What are the gaps in Birmingham in cross innovation policy and implementation? What are the opportunities to influence programmes and policies to support further cross innovation and how can this be addressed? The role of innovation in Birmingham is currently under discussion through the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) submission and in the preparatory work for the Local Enterprise Partnership’s (LEP) Smart Specialisation Strategy – a key part of the Strategic Economic Plan for greater Birmingham. This LIP therefore seeks to focus on cross innovation activity in these plans. 1 2
European Commission, Green Paper (2011), Unlocking the potential of the cultural and creative industries Birmingham includes the area designated within the Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP boundary
In discussions with partner cities it became apparent that not surprisingly the LIP documents mean different things to different cities. The plan in Birmingham is meant to be an influencing plan, a plan to influence policy makers and stakeholders to put in place measures to support cross innovation activity. 3) THE CROSS INNOVATION PROJECT The Cross Innovation project is an EU funded INTERREG IVC project led by Birmingham City University with the involvement of 11 cities across the EU (more details on this link http://www.cross‐innovation.eu/). This plan forms part of the project as each city involved has to produce a Local Implementation Plan. The project looked at cross innovation through four themes: Brokerage:
Typically this is the role of an intermediary organisation, individuals, events or a web based system for linking the creative and cultural sector to the wider economy.
This is sometimes thought of as the role of spaces i.e. buildings or spaces within buildings for people to meet. These can be co‐working spaces and shared workspace schemes with communal spaces. An example of such a co working space is the Moseley Exchange www.moseleyexchange.com. The idea can be extended to quarters where there is an agglomeration of small digital firms and where the growth of café working can lead to cross overs.
These are schemes developed to assist either the creative industries to reach out to other sectors or for the other sectors to bring in external expertise. Typical examples of these are schemes such as those run by the Berlin Senate which grant aids SMEs to buy in creative input.
Cultural Approaches Approaches include “design thinking” and introducing practices from the creative sector into other sectors in interventions such as “hack days”. The four themes and foci relate to thinking on innovation and the CCIs. For example Porter’s work on World Class clusters focused on agglomeration effects, the proximity of like‐minded firms, and the density of economic activity and the integration of professional and complementary services. 3 The idea of open innovation 4 is also reflected in the project focus. The notion of the creative city5 with an emphasis on like‐ minded creative industries working together and the ideas of “Tolerance, 3
Porter, M (1990) the Competitive Advantage of Nations Chesbrough, H (2003) Open Innovation 5 Landry, C (2008) The Creative City – A toolkit for Urban Innovators 4
Talent and Technology” 6 made key contributions to directing the project’s focus and methodology on the four themes to develop cross innovation. The importance of design and innovation also played a key part in how the project evolved.7 Learning from elsewhere is an important element of this project. Two key documents produced by the project are important background pieces of work for this Plan. Firstly a brief review of Cross Innovation 8undertaken at the beginning of the project helped to structure thinking in this relatively new area. Secondly, the project compiled a list of 44 Case Study examples across the 11 cities. These were collated and then reviewed in a key document 9 produced by Birmingham City University. Work has also been undertaken in a number of Policy Clinics held in partner cities across the project, utilising a business planning canvas approach to co‐ develop strategies and suggest key activities. Six Policy Clinics were held each one focussing on one of the key themes (Brokerage and Space had two clinics). Birmingham held a Policy Clinic focussed on the role of brokerage. Results of the clinic and the five others have been taken into account in this plan. The Cross Innovation website itself has accumulated a broad range of information on good practice projects and case studies of the 11 cities in the field of cross innovation. A Tool Kit is currently being prepared to condense the learning points from the project to provide a practical guide for policy makers. 4) HOW THE CREATIVE INDUSTRIES CAN HELP CATALYSE INNOVATION This report focuses largely on creative firms and the skills they can bring to the wider economy. This is not to deny that there are often creative people in all industries and that for instance manufacturers may well have in house designers; or work already with existing creative firms on a long term basis. The premise of this report is that further creativity is necessary in the wider economy and interaction with the creative sector and creative firms and people will further enhance Birmingham’s economy. There are two key aspects to this; • •
The creative approaches, techniques , business models and modes of working that creative firms often have; The technologies that creative firms use and bring with them and the way they exploit them; this latter point refers to the growing digital sector which is changing many things in our lives and creative firms are at the forefront of piloting new uses for these emerging technologies. Digital technology has the power to restructure markets; deliver different solutions and radically change the way firms and consumers, service providers and customers interact.
Florida, R (2006) The Rise of the Creative Class Verganti, R, (2013) Design Driven Innovation 8 Belgrave and Co. (2012) Cross Innovation Partnership Short Study on Cross Innovation 9 Cross Innovation Project (2012) A Report on Local Best Practice www.cross‐innovation.eu 7
This plan is seeking to suggest ways in which policy makers can support creative firms to reach out to the wider economy. 5) BIRMINGHAM’S ECONOMY 5.1
Overview of the Economy
Birmingham is at the heart of the UK’s West Midlands region and is the regional centre of business, retail, leisure and culture. Birmingham is a driver of the regional economy, with an economic output of over £20bn, which accounts for 21.5% of total output in the region and £34bn in the Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP area. Birmingham is a major centre of employment with half a million people employed in the city. Whilst Birmingham still maintains some of its manufacturing heritage, over recent decades the city economy has undergone a transition from an economy mainly based on manufacturing to a service based economy. During this time the city has also undergone a massive physical transformation with large areas of the city being regenerated. This has enabled Birmingham to develop into a modern internationally recognised location for commerce with a thriving business, retail and leisure offer. The city has seen rapid growth in high value added sectors like business and professional services and is an internationally recognised conference destination. Whilst the city’s overall manufacturing employment has declined the sector still makes an important contribution to the city’s economy with large employers like Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) and Cadbury still located in the city. Increasingly there is a move to higher value manufacturing, often in collaboration with local Higher Education expertise. The most recent data, as portrayed in the graph below, indicates that between 2010 and 2012, the structural changes in Birmingham’s economy are still continuing with a further decline in manufacturing employment in a period of overall employment rise.
Birmingham Employment Change 2010-2012 20000
0 Public Services Manufacturing
Transport & Comms.
Graph supplied by Birmingham City Council
Mining & Ulliles
Retail & Leisure
Finl & Prof Services
With manufacturing’s decline in employment over the last 40 years and with the growth of new industries with different and usually higher level skill requirements there has been a growing issue of unemployment and a skills mismatch in Birmingham.10 5.2
Position of the Digital and Creative Economy
One of the success stories in Birmingham has been the growth of the Creative and Digital Industries. The statistics and the way sectors are reported using national definitions make it difficult to assess the impact of this sector/cluster, however data analysis undertaken by Birmingham City Council shows the importance of the digital and creative sectors to the city.
2010 data11 shows that the digital and creative industries comprise a sizeable sector in Birmingham. In 2010:
• • • • • •
The sector employed 34,300 people, some seven per cent of the city’s workforce. Employment in the sector had grown by 13 per cent since 2005 There were 5,850 digital and creative businesses in the city, slightly higher than the 2005 figure (5,797). This represented 9 per cent of the city’s firm base Gross Value Added in the sector amounted to just over £890m. 94 per cent of creative firms in the city were micro‐businesses, employing Fewer than ten people These businesses are located across Birmingham, as the map, shows with concentrations in the City Centre particularly the Jewellery Quarter and Digbeth.
10 Further detailed information on Birmingham’s economy can be found on this website. www.birmingham.gov.uk/economy
Profile of Birmingham’s Digital and Creative Sector, Birmingham City Council 2010
It is clear that this sector is important for Birmingham and is still growing. There is evidence that this sector is buoyant in the City with the increased growth in the Custard Factory, the developments around Innovation Birmingham and the further development of the Jewellery Quarter. 5.3 Level of Innovation Activity in the City and the West Midlands Whilst there has been structural change in the City in recent decades a key question is what is the level of economic innovation activity in the city? There currently are no figures or measures for the level of innovation at city or Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP level. The European Union’s Regional innovation Scoreboard12 , in its 2012 results, put the West Midlands as the joint lowest innovatory region in England.
A slightly more optimistic viewpoint is drawn from the UK Innovation Survey13 which shows that in terms of percentage of innovation active firms the West Midlands lies about at the UK average and this has increased significantly from 2011.
Regional Innovation Scoreboard. Published annually by the European Commission. This measures a basket of indicators at regional level. http://ec.europa.eu/enterprise/policies/innovation/policy/regional‐innovation/ 13 https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/301385/14‐p107a‐first‐ findings‐from‐the‐ukis‐2013.pdf
UK Innovation Survey 2013 First findings report BIS April 2014
This map shows that the West Midlands according to the RIS is a second tier region for Innovation
For further background information; a statistical view of the West Midlands on Innovation and RTD is contained in a briefing note prepared by West Midlands in Europe14. In conclusion the only information we have on innovation is at regional level and this does not paint an entirely consistent picture. What can be said is the West Midlands (and by implication Birmingham) is not a top performing area for innovation; there is room for improvement against other English regions and against European competitor regions. It must be said that measures of innovation probably don’t paint the full picture of activity at the firm and institutional level. The research success of regional universities for example is hard to measure. The project, by focussing on cross innovation, highlights a need to better measure innovation across sectors, particularly in key growth areas for the city, such as health. 6) STRATEGIC FRAMEWORK This section outlines the strategic framework for cross innovation activity. 6.1 EU and National Strategies: The European Policy framework under EU2020 stresses the role of the creative sector in helping to drive innovation. The Innovation Union Flagship project refers to this role and as noted above it is specifically mentioned in a Green Paper produced by the European Commission. The EU’s Green Paper on ‘Unlocking the Potential of the Cultural and Creative Sectors’ recognises their economic worth in their own right but also stresses the spillover effects on other sectors.
‘Beyond their direct contribution to GDP, CCIs are also important drivers of economic and social innovation in many other sectors. Imaginative solutions in many different sectors stem from creative thinking in these industries, ranging from the regeneration or "branding" of countries, regions or cities to the development of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) skills (e‐skills) for lifelong learning, from stimulating research to communicating values in an accessible way, from product and service innovation to the promotion of low carbon and sustainable economic environments, from inter‐generational dialogue to intercultural dialogue and community building’ In the UK the Technology Strategy Board (TSB) recognises in its Strategy ‘Concept to Commercialisation’15 the role of the digital and creative industries; ‘We have developed strategic assessments of innovation potential in the challenge‐led areas of healthcare, energy, transport, environmental sustainability, built environment, creative industries and financial services; we will update and continue to implement these strategies.’ Pp 19.
Concept to Commercialisation’ A strategy for business innovation 2011‐2015
The UK Government’s Innovation and Research Strategy for Growth 16 equally recognises these strengths and their cross over potential; ‘The creative industries bring together many of the key elements of this Strategy: new technologies (especially in the digital arena), interdisciplinary innovation (for example, between engineers and artists), the critical importance of design, the interaction between cutting‐edge research and business innovation, and the challenge presented to traditional frameworks of IP, copyright and regulation’ Pp 25 Therefore there is the recognition and support strategically, both at EU and national level for the role of the creative and digital sectors in supporting innovation in the wider economy. 6.2 Greater Birmingham and Solihull Strategy for Growth This overarching economic strategy for greater Birmingham and Solihull was published in May 201317 and has a section on Innovation. The LEP adopted the Birmingham Science City Board as the LEP’s Innovation Advisory Board and have appointed a lead board champion; Tracy Westall from SCC18 to link to it. The section on Innovation is high level with over‐arching principles. It doesn’t specifically mention the role of the Creative and Digital sector or cross innovation but equally it doesn’t rule this approach out. The LEP submitted to Government its Strategic Economic Plan19 in March 2014 and sitting under this document it submitted its European Structural and Investment Fund (ESIF) Strategy20 in January 2014 The ESIF strategy, as reflected on later in this plan, has taken on board elements of the work of this project (as well as many other influences) and in effect is the more detailed Innovation Strategy for the LEP; delivering and detailing the Innovation aims of the Strategy for Growth and the Strategic Economic Plan. The Creative City Partnership produced a prospectus21 in 2013 which focuses on the role of the creative sector with key actions needed to support the sector. This Local Implementation Plan (LIP)should be seen to compliment that work but obviously is focussed on the overlap between the creative and other sectors so has a slightly different focus. 7) CROSS INNOVATION ACTIVITY IN THE CITY AND RECOMMENDATIONS ON THE WAY FORWARD From both the strategy and the experience drawn from seeing projects and approaches across Europe it is clear that Cross Innovation is increasingly seen as an important and effective innovation policy tool. It is vital that, as part of further developing overall innovation policy and developing 16
Innovation and Research Strategy for Growth BIS December 2011 The Strategy for Growth Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP 2013 http://centreofenterprise.com/wp‐ content/uploads/2013/05/Strategy‐for‐Growth‐copy.pdf 18 http://www.scc.com/about‐scc/ 19 http://centreofenterprise.com/wp‐content/uploads/2014/03/GBS‐Strategic‐Economic‐Plan‐Final‐with‐ links1.pdf 20 http://centreofenterprise.com/wp‐content/uploads/2013/10/GBSLEP_A4_070214_v8.pdf 21 http://birminghamculture.org/files/Advocates/digitalanddiverse.pdf 17
projects in Birmingham that sufficient weight is given to the potential of cross innovation. Projects such as Hello Digital and Hello Business which bring together businesses with the creative sector; challenge events linked to incubation and other support such as Oxygen; cultural projects as developed by SAMPAD all show the potential in Birmingham for such actions. From the team’s collective knowledge of Birmingham we summarised the overall position of cross innovation through the four prisms. This was added to after the event held on June 5th 2013 where a range of policy experts attended a workshop which looked at the level of and examples of current activity under cross innovation and areas and types of projects where we might do more. The session came up with a number of over‐ arching issues. •
The LIP should develop synergies with other ongoing planning/strategy developments such as the work of the Creative City Partnership and the result of this project should be fed into this work. The four themes are useful starting points for reflection but in reality cross innovation at its best is a mixture of all these elements.
Creative innovation in Birmingham has many nodes – indeed grass roots innovation is a feature of the local scene following the abolition of the Regional Development Agency in 2010.
Engaging the market place is crucial. Cross innovation is applicable to both the private and public sectors and should be driven by societal needs.
These issues and more specific points raised have fed into the recommendations.
The following section looks at existing activity and areas for possible extra activity. The project has also been a great source of learning; seeing best practice in other cities and in making these recommendations we highlight where some of the proposed actions have been implemented elsewhere and where some of the ideas have come from. 7.1 SPACES Until recently spaces specifically targeting the promotion of cross innovation in the City were relatively scarce. There is for instance a well‐established co‐working space at Moseley Exchange and in the last year there has been the opening of a new co‐working space in Digbeth “Boxxed” and the recently announced Hub Birmingham co working space at Millennium Point similar to Hub Westminster which is due to open shortly. In addition Birmingham Open Media (BOM) is a co‐ working, exhibition and workshop space due to open in July with a focus is on new media technologies and photography. Co working spaces have taken off significantly in London and in other European cities and are seemingly now establishing themselves in Birmingham. There is as well the Collaborative Arts Triple Helix project (CATH) at the University of Birmingham that has
aspects similar to a Fab Lab22. This reflects the development of the “maker” movement which focuses on design and manufacture locally utilising the net. There are also many shared workspaces and two or three creative quarters where serendipity meetings may be happening. Some spaces such as at Innovation Birmingham increasingly are moving into the co working ethos and have actually added on finance , brokering and support services to maximise their impact via their Entrepreneurs for the Future (E4F) project. Recommendations for a way forward on spaces: The co‐working movement has only at present got a relatively small foothold in the city. These have been proven, via looking at some of the projects case studies and other example to really stimulate new ideas. Therefore we23 should in Birmingham be seeking to offer: 1. Support to establish new co‐working spaces in the City. This could be focussed initially in existing centres of the creative industries such as Digbeth, The Jewellery Quarter where there are already a weight of such businesses. These could be linked to existing shared space providers like the Bond and the Custard Factory; as they in effect could be seen as a feeder facility for these spaces24. Examples of such facilities across the project include the establishment in Lisbon of a co‐working space linked to a Fab Lab25. These could be temporary as well – pop up spaces‐ and could be an interesting way to encourage reuse of older buildings/retail space. The CCIs readily use these spaces and there should be more emphasis on this aspect within other growth sectors co to increase joint working and innovation. Therefore Birmingham should seek to run challenge based events from such spaces. These could be linked to existing projects such as Innovation Engine26 and Creative Digital Health Solutions27 . This would mean for instance freelancers looking at Green Issues would rub shoulders with digital experts The ESIF strategy supports the establishment and development of co‐working spaces as a key element in the strategy. 2. Establish such a facility as a Fab Lab in an existing Creative/Industrial quarter. This could trial such facilities as the CATH facility or 3D printing but be in the right geography to attract in existing manufacturers. Two areas again suggest themselves, the Jewellery Quarter with its Jewellery and other small scale manufacturing facilities and Digbeth with its light 22
A fab lab (fabrication laboratory) is a small‐scale workshop offering (personal) digital fabrication. A fab lab is
generally equipped with an array of flexible computer controlled tools that cover several different length scales and various materials, with the aim to make "almost anything". This includes technology‐enabled products generally perceived as limited to mass production. 23
These are recommendations for policy makers and implementers from the City Council; the LEP and other key players in the City including the Universities, Birmingham Science City, Marketing Birmingham, Innovation Birmingham and the private sector 24 Interestingly enough Fazeley Studios seems to be doing just this with the very recent announcement of free space for start‐ ups http://web.timeetc.co.uk/spaceforstartups/#prettyPhoto 25 http://www.cross‐innovation.eu/practice/fab‐lab‐lx/ 26 Innovation is an ERDF project run by Innovation Birmingham but stimulated by Birmingham Science City that seeks to drive innovation through a challenged based approach. http://www.innovation‐engine.co.uk/ and http://www.birminghamsciencecity.co.uk/case‐studies/innovation‐ecosystem/innovation‐engine/ 27 Brief details on the Creative Digital Health Project http://birminghamsciencecity.wordpress.com/2014/01/27/birmingham‐science‐city‐review‐of‐progress/
engineering focus. The ESIF specifically mentions proposals at Innovation Birmingham for the establishment of a TechShop and supports the potential for FabLabs to act as a gateway to existing and planned higher tech or specialist facilities. These facilities should be combined with another recommendation (see below). 3. University run incubators. Whilst employability is a key requisite for universities, developing student start‐ups and developing entrepreneurism is increasingly becoming important. An example where this has been developed is in Stockholm in the Telefonplan28, an old Ericsson factory, where Konstfack, a faculty of art and design is co‐ located with incubation space and other facilities. This would be similar to Birmingham Institute of Art and Design (BIAD) being located in the Custard Factory. There are examples elsewhere in the UK where Universities have opened up incubators; sometimes as part of the course; with accreditation of the period spent in it; sometimes at the end of courses as a facility for students to launch an idea; to try out in commerce. Apart from potentially the Jewellery Design Centre run by the School of Jewellery, the City’s Universities have not has not yet established such facilities. This should be investigated but should not be in located on campus but in areas of real economic activity and should encourage a mix of skills and students in these facilities. The University Enterprise Zone bid based at Innovation Birmingham submitted by the Cities’ Universities seems to reflect this thinking having the backing of all of Birmingham’s five Universities29. It will be important to deliver this project whether or not the resources are won from the UK Government. 4. Other Incubators such as Innovation Birmingham should be supported and extended. Innovation Birmingham is a key resource for the City and there are significant plans for expansion. Projects such as E4F and Oxygen30 which are or have been run from this facility need supporting and extending given their success rate and encouragement should be given to strengthen co‐working and cross sector linkages that are already developing. Innovation Birmingham hosts the EU Climate KIC and as such is a focal point for activity around low carbon enterprise. 5. Area Eco Systems/Innovation Districts: The City is made up of a number of distinct areas such as the Jewellery Quarter, Digbeth and Birmingham Science Park and Innovation Birmingham where distinct cross innovation eco system plans would be worth mapping and stimulating. In the Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP’s Strategic Economic Plan there is outlined an area based approach to the development of sectors –such as the development of the Life Sciences Zone around the University of Birmingham. Where amongst other proposals an Institute for Translational Medicine and a Bio Medical hub are being built. These could also become the focus for further cross innovation activity to maximise their impact.
For a summary of the University Enterprise Zone bid – see link on the GBS LEP website. http://centreofenterprise.com/wp‐content/uploads/2014/03/GBS‐SEP‐Appendix‐N.pdf 30 A start up/ incubator/accelerator scheme now based in Wolverhampton http://www.oxygenaccelerator.com/
6. Birmingham should consider supporting a messy maker arts space similar to I Shed in Bristol, to engage innovative local community members and international experts to turn ideas into practical, deliverable solutions to improve the quality of life in cities. 7.2 BROKERAGE There are a number of examples of brokerage in the City; there is the Digital Media Business cluster31 which is looking at how it links inwards to build a strong cluster and outwards to bring the benefits of this cluster to the wider economy. At a higher level there is Birmingham Science City which has promoted and supported cross sector collaboration with one of its foci on the digital media sector. There are also numerous brokers working independently linking the creative sector to the wider economy and there have been a number of events based approaches to brokerage such as Hello Business32. Birmingham City University are also leading the delivery this summer of Interactivos? Birmingham 33. This is a two‐week international seminar and open innovation prototyping workshop. Recommendations for a Way Forward: 7. The clustering of organisations in the creative and digital economy should be strengthened particularly with a view to building effective bodies and to building links to other clusters where there is potential demand/need for innovation. Where possible, initial financial set up support should be given to establish or strengthen such cluster organisations. 8. Linked to the above, the role of the Birmingham Science City partnership in promoting Innovation is valuable and continued support and development of its role as a cross sector and cross innovation promoting body should be supported. 9. Events based brokerage should be encouraged where a) specific societal and city challenges can be tackled and b) where there is likely to be private sector demand to drive forward the innovation agenda. These could be in the form of increased numbers of hack or challenge events and Dev Lab/Spillover lab approaches.34 In Tallinn the Garage 4835 project shows how international project teams can be formed to tackle specific issues in an intense 48 hour period Approaches already run in the city such as Oxygen could be expanded and co‐ordinated. These could also be linked to the innovative work of the Innovation Engine and Creative Digital Health Solutions projects. 10. Joint University working should increase. Birmingham’s five Universities are main players in supporting innovation in the city and already work together on a range of Innovation and business enterprise schemes but there is scope for enhancing this joint work and this should be taken particularly where there is potential to bring in cross innovation elements. An 31
Its website http://www.digitalmediabusinesses.co.uk/ http://www.hello‐business.co.uk/
The Interactivos? Model, conceived by Medialab‐Prado as a hybrid between an innovation production workshop, seminar and exhibition showcase. It is a space for reflection, research, collaboration and creation, in which proposals selected by an international open call are developed, completed and displayed. 34
Typically, these are intensive sessions held over 1‐2 days with the objective to produce a new application – physical and or digital 35
existing scheme such as BSEEN could be enhanced with specific cross innovation elements to draw together student/graduate enterprise teams from across disciplines and institutions. The model, as developed in Stockholm, is commended where the Universities involved established a separate institution 36 to drive forward an entrepreneurship programme that mixes medical students, with artists and business school students amongst a range of disciplines. Cross Innovation approaches in Horizon 2020 should also be encouraged. The new EU Horizon 2020 Programme seeks to capitalise on the R&D base of the EU by developing new ideas and products from research. These ideas are increasingly multidisciplinary in nature and the City’s research base could benefit from more joint working. This is particularly so for SMEs where there are specific actions in H2020 which encourage a cross innovation approach. Web based approaches to finding the right skills/companies and promoting cross sector collaboration should be supported particularly when developed by the cluster based groups such as the Digital Media Business Cluster. This is a key part of the Creative City Partnership’s approach to skills. A mentoring scheme based potentially on the Pioneers into Practice Climate KIC project37 could be developed where students, or graduates are placed into creative firms and then into other sectors to allow for such cross fertilisation. There is a need for further research into brokerage and for the training of brokers – given the key role these can play. Regular Maker Monday / Tech Jam meet‐up sessions should be encouraged to promote multidisciplinary networking, demonstrating and making. Acting as a catalyst to bring people together
7.3 FINANCE APPROACHES There is a range of financial support available for innovation activities through European Regional Development Funds (ERDF) and other funding for SMEs and with the new ESIF programme this type of support will be available to 2020. Few schemes though have focussed on cross innovation specifically. Aston University has run and is hoping to set up a renewed scheme for innovation vouchers in conjunction with the other local HEIs. Recommendations for a Way Forward: 16. An innovation vouchers scheme that allowed SME’s to buy academic and/or creative input should be developed. This could work along the lines of the Berlin SME finance project – Design Transfer Bonus38 which is supporting SMEs to access the design skills of creative companies. This could potentially be brought forward under the ESIF programme. 36
The Stockholm School of Entrepreneurship This institutions approach is summarised in Paul Long’s report Cross Innovation: A Report on Local Best Practice December 2012 and a brief write up is are given on the project website Further details also here http://www.sses.se/ 37
http://www.innovationbham.com/news/innovation‐birmingham‐enrols‐40‐climate‐change‐practitioners‐ onto‐european‐funded‐exchange‐programme/ 38 http://www.cross‐innovation.eu/practice/design‐transfer‐bonus/ and its website http://www.designtransferbonus.de/
17. The use of innovative Procurement mechanisms should be encouraged by the public sector in Birmingham. The City Council has and is looking at this39. Such approaches can encourage cross innovation by supporting the submission from cross sector teams including the creative and digital sector. Barcelona City Council 40 has recently launched an open procurement competition along these lines. 18. Venture Capital schemes. There has been recent agreement from the LEPs across the West Midlands to establish a finance vehicle under the ESIF; there could be scope within that to promote cross sector collaboration through for instance proof of concept funding41. 19. Significant funds are available from national bodies such as the TSB, NESTA and the Arts Council and the supported brokerages should promote the take up of such funds, R and D tax credits and other support from e.g. UKTI. Birmingham Science City currently highlights some of these opportunities and its work in this field could be strengthened. It is clear that given the relative importance of GBS LEP, particularly if working in partnership with other LEPs it may be able to influence national bodies such as the TSB to develop appropriate policies and instruments. There will also be transnational EU funds such as Interreg Europe and Creative Europe which can help pilot new approaches and continue learning from elsewhere. 7.4 Cultural Approaches There have for instance been Expo’s like Birmingham Made Me that have promoted the role and value of innovation and design in Birmingham. This in a broader sense can promote the role of cross innovation. Cross Innovation does not just arise from the use of new technologies and can happen from a change in business models for instance in involving design elements. 20. Birmingham Made Me, which is a festival of design and innovation should be deepened linking events very clearly with the creative SMEs in the City and linking it to our creative quarters. It would benefit from strengthened and co‐ordinated support from the other Universities in the city and from the City Council and should become Birmingham’s annual Cross Innovation Conference. The recent Futureshift Conference 42 at Millennium Point explored bottom up/social innovation approaches and should be encouraged to develop in the City – as indeed Millennium Point are doing through supporting the establishment of Hub Birmingham facility. 21. Approaches to Business planning such as Design Thinking43 should be embodied, if they are not already, in the entrepreneurship training given to students and in the joint University programme envisaged above. Birmingham City University is a key partner in an EU funded project led by the Design Council, European Design Innovation Platform looking at the role of design in innovation44 which will draw out key lessons. Design thinking more 39
http://www.icps.bangor.ac.uk/brochures/procweek2013/thursday/Jacqueline%20Homan%20(Bangor%20pre sentation).ppt 40 http://bcnopenchallenge.org/ 41 A grant to explore the technical feasibility and commercial potential of a new technology, product or process 42 http://www.futureshift.cc/ 43 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Design_thinking 44 http://www.designcouncil.org.uk/projects/european‐design‐innovation‐platform‐edip
generally is a method for approaching business planning and tackling problems which draws on a wider range of visual, creative and emotional approaches. Equipping students with this new approach will widen their employability and given them extra tools to impact on the real world. 22. Better Marketing of Birmingham’s Digital Offer The issue of a lack of better marketing of our digital talent both in the city and externally has been raised by David Hardman CEO of Innovation Birmingham and has been discussed by the Birmingham Science City board. Marketing Birmingham could, working with UKTI, better promote our undoubted assets. 23. Promotion of Open Data. The provision of open data by public authorities can aid cross innovation and the tackling of societal challenges. Birmingham City Council through its Smart City Commission and Digital Birmingham has agreed to create an open data portal. The ESIF strategy may be able to help fund the establishment of this or the exploitation of it for cross innovation activity. 24. The role of internationalisation. At a recent session in Berlin 130 SMEs came together to do business. A virtual space was created to link creative SMEs to other growth sector companies. The outcomes of this virtual and real networking are being evaluated, but it is clear SMEs from growth sectors see the positive benefit of international working – learning from and doing business with other SMEs.
7.5 Wider Recommendations
25. A Champion for Cross Innovation? Whilst the above are a range of specific suggestions a key issue raised in the workshop on June 5th 2013 was the lack of leadership for cross innovation. It is clear where leadership lies in innovation policy in Birmingham ‐ it lies with the LEP and Birmingham Science City. It is clear where, as well, leadership lies for the creative and digital sector in the city – it lies with the Creative City Partnership under the LEP. However it would be appropriate that a champion for cross innovation be identified for the city. It would seem sensible if that champion was Birmingham City University. 26. The role of Birmingham City Council needs considering in relation to the GBS LEP. It is clear across the partnership in this project that many of the City Council’s comparators in Europe take a greater leadership role in innovation. The Council is currently running an EU Urbact project Creative Spin which is looking at similar issues to this project and it would benefit from reviewing its approach to innovation. 27. Challenge events. Partly as a result of its LIP, Amsterdam is running a Cross Over Programme and is funding two strategic projects per year. Local universities and strategic partners could be encouraged to run inter‐disciplinary events to stimulate ideas which can then be incubated. 28. Economic intelligence on Innovation. The need to collect data on innovation is important to be able to develop the case for further investment. This is challenging at the national level but will increasingly become more important in terms of measuring value for money and impact in an inter‐disciplinary world. Consideration should be given on how best to do this coupled with qualitative approaches on innovation processes.
8) INFLUENCING LOCAL FUNDING STREAMS This project has already had some influence on one key area of funding – the European Funding allocated to the Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP. Birmingham City University were successful in assembling a consortium of organisations to win the consultancy from the Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP to draft its European Structural and Investment Fund strategy. Many of the ideas emanating from this plan as it has developed were accepted to be included in this funding strategy‐ the final draft of which was submitted to Government in January 2014. The policies45 that the project was able to influence in the ESIF strategy were under the Innovation and R&D priority and the Business Competitiveness priority. These areas have taken on board some of the ideas that have arisen from this piece of work including support for co working centres, widening of innovation vouchers approaches and demand led approaches. Appendix 1 indicates where cross innovation elements are embedded in the strategy. Under the Innovation and R&D priority there will be the development of a Smart Specialisation Approach to targeting the £30m ERDF innovation investment in Greater Birmingham and it is to be hoped that the potential of Cross innovation approaches are fed into the process ensuring that the this piece of work does not solely focus on specific sectors but also actions to promote spillover and cross over particularly in relation to the Creative and Digital sector. This Smart Specialisation approach will not only influence EU funds but wider investments and therefore is really important for cross innovation to be incorporated in it. This will influence for instance how HEIF46 funding is spent by the City's Universities. Equally there will be work undertaken to develop a West Midlands Access to Finance vehicle and it will be important for the role of cross innovation to be considered in establishing this fund. 9) CONCLUSIONS This plan has sought to identify where Birmingham might wish to strengthen and coordinate its cross innovation actions. What is clear is that in prioritising actions it is those initiatives that bring together place, with finance, brokerage and societal need/market demand that need to be strengthened and encouraged. Cross Innovation needs a combination of all aspects of the different types of support and so those projects that can combine key elements are likely to be stronger. In terms of “space” the City has an emerging education quarter around Aston University, with Innovation Birmingham running to the BCU Parkside Campus and onto Digbeth. HS2 and the development of Curzon station will further enhance this agglomeration effect. The Jewellery Quarter is becoming more physically connected to the city centre and the Life Sciences Campus is expanding to the south of the city. Actions that help build an eco‐system of innovation 45
and policy makers behind these strategies Higher Education Innovation Funding http://www.hefce.ac.uk/whatwedo/kes/heif/
such as strengthening brokerage services and cross University and cross University/Business working should be emphasised. The influence of this project on the new EU funding programme offers an opportunity for Birmingham to further enhance its activity in this area – so that by 2020 Birmingham will have a much more coherent and active innovation arena where cross innovation plays an important role in the wider innovation agenda for Greater Birmingham. The emergence of the “maker” movement and the ability for entrepreneurs to design and make products quickly at the local level is a key new ingredient in the mix. Birmingham has always been a city of makers – this new movement coupled with the principles of cross innovation – should provide an excellent Launchpad for innovation, economic growth and new jobs. Patrick Willcocks Steve Harding June 2014 ‐19‐
Appendix 1: Cross Innovation References/Influences in the Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP ESIF Strategy References and Impact are mainly in two priorities on Innovation and Business Support. Priority 1: Innovation and R&D • • • • •
Rationale for a cross sector approach to S3 (Smart Specialisation Strategy) pp50 Responding to challenges ‐ demonstrator approaches ‐ pp56 Innovation vouchers for complex problems pp55 Physical centres ‐ New Demonstrators which are a combination of research push and demand driven needs. E.g. Techshop, Rapid innovation centre, fab labs pp59 User driven networks such as health & digital focussing on societal issues pp 57
Priority 2: Stimulating Business and Enterprise Under Business Support •
co working centres in communities pp70
Priority 3: Low Carbon and Resilient Places A focus on whole place approaches to decarbonisation. Priorities 4, 5 & 6 ‐ ESF Focus on a person centred approach and a ladder of progression Stress on ‘social innovation may allow for cross innovation approaches The Greater Birmingham and Solihull ESIF Strategy can http://centreofenterprise.com/european‐funding‐strategy‐consultation/
Birmingham City University City North Campus Birmingham B42 2SU Tel: +44 (0)121 331 5000 Contacts: Steve Harding firstname.lastname@example.org Tom Cahill-Jones email@example.com Alexa Torlo firstname.lastname@example.org Nina Lakeberg email@example.com
A report making recommendations as to how creative thinking can better drive innovation in Birmingham, UK. June 2014.