Property firm Bruntwood is set to acquire Innovation Birmingham and bring a new era of expansion to the region’s leading digital and technology campus.
The deal, recommended by Birmingham City Council’s cabinet, will help the city’s digital economy flourish as Bruntwood seeks to work closely with key stakeholders to drive forward growth of the Innovation Birmingham campus.
There are currently more than 72,000 digital and creative jobs in the West Midlands and the forecast is for another 29,000 by 2030.
The sector is seen as vital to the continued success of the region’s economy and is a key part of Metro Mayor Andy Street’s economic strategy.
Already highly successful, Innovation Birmingham, located in the heart of Birmingham city centre close to Aston and Birmingham City universities, has successfully supported more than 260 businesses since 2009, creating more than 500 jobs and raising more than £18m in equity finance.
The Innovation Birmingham campus currently comprises three buildings over 80,000 sq ft: iCentrum, Universities Centre and Faraday Wharf.
Bruntwood has a proven track record of investing for the long term and will bring a unique blend of commercial expertise, investment capacity and experience of creating successful partnerships with local authorities and the academic sector to drive economic growth in city regions.
Chris Oglesby, chief executive of Bruntwood, said: “Our upcoming acquisition of Innovation Birmingham forms a key strategic component of our wider science and technology business and enables us to share knowledge and expertise across these sectors.
"We understand the importance of engaging with key partners, acknowledging that what we can do together would be so much greater than we could ever hope to do on our own."
Bruntwood currently has £150m invested in Birmingham and has operated in the city for almost 20 years. Acquiring Innovation Birmingham would mark the next stage of the company’s successful strategy of investing in and developing major science and tech assets, which include the internationally-renowned Alderley Park in Cheshire, Manchester Science Partnerships and brand new tech incubators in Manchester and Leeds.
The company’s aim is to provide the right environments to stimulate innovation and support the growth of companies ranging in size from start-ups to European HQs.
Its extensive network facilitates access to finance, talent and markets across the UK.
Chris Oglesby added: “We are committed to making our great city regions greater by creating places for business success and it is that thread that runs through everything we do.
"Our experience in the science and digital tech sectors, our relationship with funders, aligned with our commitment to expansion ensures that we are ideally placed to deliver significant growth for the campus.
"We also see this as a catalyst for our investing more than £300m in supporting these important growth sectors over the next 10 years.”
Cllr Ian Ward, leader, Birmingham City Council, said: "This potential investment in Innovation Birmingham is crucial for the continuing success of the region’s tech and digital businesses.
"I am confident that, when finalised, it will generate huge benefits for the city’s thriving and diverse digital sector, helping to create hundreds of jobs, build businesses and drive growth in the city region as innovative tech firms are given relevant support to realise their growth potential.
"Partnerships between academia and business are essential for the growth of any city or region and students, early-stage entrepreneurs and innovators need a place, often close to seats of learning, to incubate and collaborate.
"Working with Bruntwood would not only ensure more opportunities are created, but will also reinforce our burgeoning credentials as a first class location for digital tech businesses.”
Waheed Nazir, Birmingham City Council's Corporate Director, Economy added: “When finalised the commitment by Bruntwood will be a significant boost for the city’s economy and the future of our technology and digital sector.
"With their expertise and access to finance, Bruntwood would be a partner who can help realise the potential of economic assets such as Innovation Birmingham.
"The ecosystem is there, and with the arrival of HS2 on its doorstep this part of the city centre will be central to future economic success."
Further growth at Innovation Birmingham is also planned through developing links with other science parks, nationally and internationally through the concept, Science Park Without Walls, which Innovation Birmingham launched in 2010 aiming to build a successful technology ecosystem through modern communication and collaboration technologies rather than being entirely geography dependent.
Dr David Hardman, CEO of Innovation Birmingham, said: "Innovation Birmingham has moved a long way in the last nine years but we have reached a point where we need to scale.
"We have three buildings, these buildings are full, we have more than 140 businesses, we have a thriving community of people who visit here, but if we are really going to make a difference to the Birmingham economy we have to scale and to do that we need external investment.
"What we are trying to do is create something here that remains a focal point so it has to go beyond being something about
"Property is important but what is more important in a digital community is the innovators, the entrepreneurs that sit in these buildings and drive the local economy.”
Advisors on the deal for Birmingham City Council are KPMG and Gowling WLG, with Addleshaw Goddard acting for Bruntwood.