BCU offers small business support

BCU offers small business support

Support worth over £2,000 is being made available to the region's small businesses by Birmingham City University to help companies develop new ideas.

The free, two-day workshop – STEAMlab – is designed to help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), micro businesses and sole traders utilise new technologies and improve their products.

Open to all relevant businesses within the Greater Birmingham & Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GBSLEP) area, the event will be led by Birmingham City University academics alongside industry experts on 30 and 31 March at Fazeley Social.

STEAMlab will give participants the opportunity to address and negotiate different challenges in a supportive and experimental learning environment. The workshop will help companies look at new ways of researching and developing innovative and practical solutions to new ideas, new business or artistic products and services.

STEAMlab is part of STEAMHouse Phase One, a creative innovation centre currently being established in Birmingham’s Digbeth area with the aim of brokering collaborative relationships between arts and creative industries, businesses and academics.

The centre will demonstrate how arts and creativity can be combined with STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) to drive innovation, skills, research and economic growth.

STEAMHouse, backed with a £14m funding package from government, will provide support to SMEs and new enterprises from the GBSLEP region of Birmingham, Solihull, North Worcester and South Staffordshire. It will develop new products and services through workshops (such as STEAMlab), grants and research cooperation with academics from the University.

Prof Julian Beer, deputy vice-chancellor atBirmingham City University, said: “STEAMlab offers a unique opportunity for businesses who are actively seeking to be more innovative and willing to share ideas. Participants will be set real world, active challenges and gain the necessary skills and knowledge from our academic team in order to respond to these tasks as best they can, before applying their learning on their own enterprises.

“We are particularly interested in supporting projects that focus on building learning and knowledge with the skills and technologies of the future. STEAMHouse, for example, is focusing its work on the growth areas of creative and digital industries, health and life sciences, low carbon and advanced manufacturing.”

Alongside networking opportunities, STEAMlab will also offer financial assistance to prototype products and services within STEAMhouse and allow access to the innovation centre’s facilities in Digbeth, which will open later this year.

STEAMHouse is a partnership between Birmingham City University and Eastside Projects, supported by the European Regional Development Funding (ERDF) and Arts Council England Creative Local Growth Fund.