There’s a new spring in the step of Birmingham as we found when we spent time with digital businesses and entrepreneurs there last month on our Tech Nation listening tour.
The city has a new high-profile mayor, former John Lewis chief executive Andy Street, and will invite the world to town in 2022 for the Commonwealth Games. But it also boasts more startups than anywhere else in the UK, outside the capital.
Data released from the Centre for Entrepreneurs reveals that Birmingham, the UK’s second biggest city and the heart of the West Midlands’ engine, is seeing new businesses being set up at a furious pace.
According to the Centre of Entrepreneurs 12,108 businesses were started in Birmingham last year, more than any local authority, outside London.
While collecting data in preparation for the publication of our annual Tech Nation report, we dug up some insights related to why Birmingham is firing on all cylinders, and why the city is such a great place to start or grow a business, particularly in the tech sector. Using data from Meetup.com, which is be one of around 15 high-level data sources we’ll be using for the 2018 Tech Nation report.
As of January 2018, Birmingham has:
- 70 active Tech Meetup groups with 20,703 members.
- These meetups enable entrepreneurs to network with like-minded people, as well as find people with appropriate skills.
- The most popular meetup topics are for software engineering, followed by entrepreneurship. After that, the most popular topics are web development, and data science and analytics.
With 18 universities within an hour radius of Birmingham, the city clearly has a lot of the right conditions for a thriving digital tech scene.
When you add in Birmingham’s great connectivity to other regions, the cost of living, the region’s young and diverse population then clearly the West Midlands has the potential to develop as a leading tech cluster, not just in the UK, but in Europe and the world.
That is why we will be stepping up our activities there. Starting in April we will begin a gradual roll out of Tech Nation (our new name to go with a new national focus) to 11 UK cities. Over a two year period we will be expanding our reach right across the UK, from Birmingham to Belfast, creating a positively reinforcing network of networks to help the UK tech sector scale. Our mission is to connect the most ambitious entrepreneurs across the country, so that they can build great digital tech businesses that put the UK at the forefront of the global technology sector.
We’ll be working with entrepreneurs across the West Midlands and the whole of the UK. Could you be one of them?