Heavyweights get behind Birmingham Tech Week as sector investment grows

Momentum keeps building for Birmingham Tech Week, running digitally 12-16 October, as big-name partners and speakers are formally announced today (6 October 2020) from across the tech, business and political spectrum.

The largest regional technology festival in the UK, with over 5,000 attendees last year, this year is being backed by the UK Government – with the Department for International Trade official partners, alongside Tech Nation, Enterprise Nation and headline sponsor NatWest.

Alongside this, a raft of heavyweight speakers can be revealed, including Adrian Joseph OBE, BT’s Managing Director of AI and Data Solutions and the Financial Times’ most influential BAME tech leader, Emma Jones MBE, Founder and CEO of Enterprise Nation, and Bjoern Hirtenjohann, UK Public Sector CTO at Microsoft.

Other notable speaker additions include those from Google, the ScaleUp Institute and National Express.

This news comes as new Tech Nation stats reveal venture capital investment in Birmingham is up 19.5 per cent year-on-year from £22m in 2018 to £27.4m in 2019 – compared to a 14.5 per cent increase in tech-hub competitor Cambridge, and Newcastle upon Tyne and Glasgow where investment decreased.

Gordon Merrylees, Managing Director of Entrepreneurship at NatWest, said: “Technology has a vital role to play in all of our lives, and without question recent events have demonstrated just how necessary digital adoption has become in our day to day lives with many of us now working remotely.
“We know that tech businesses will be central to the UK’s economic recovery following the Covid-19 pandemic, and it’s absolutely critical that we all work together to support these entrepreneurs. NatWest’s Business Builder, Entrepreneur Accelerator and Fintech Accelerator programmes are offered free of charge to support this crucial segment, helping these businesses start, scale and succeed.
“Birmingham Tech Week demonstrates how important industry collaboration is in the sector, and we look forward to seeing the new ideas and innovations that come out of it.”

Tech Nation’s stats also indicate that Birmingham’s tech sector boasts a diverse workforce, with 26 per cent of tech workers BAME, compared to a 15 per cent average.

Adrian Joseph, BT MD Group Data and AI Solutions, added: “Birmingham, and the wider West Midlands, has a growing tech sector and there is also a focus on adoption of digital technologies in the region, which is really positive for the future. Birmingham Tech Week is a fantastic opportunity for collaboration and ideas generation.
“I’m passionate about the three D’s – Data, and how we turn this into actionable insight, often using AI, that drives business and societal value; Digital transformation; and Diversity and inclusion. These three D’s are interrelated and have become significantly more important amidst the Covid-19 pandemic and the issues surrounding racial equality. I believe that AI is a tremendous force for good if managed safely and ethically.”

The week is free-to-attend and gives unparalleled access to experts and thought-leaders who will be sharing knowledge on subjects such as business culture, customer experience and how to start and scale up a tech business.

Other notable partners include Mail Metro Media, Story Comms, West Midlands Growth Company, Tech Nation, GBSLEP, University of Birmingham, Aston University, Birmingham City University, Make UK and Greater Birmingham Chamber of Commerce.

Yiannis Maos, Founder of Birmingham Tech Week, said: "Birmingham Tech Week always aimed at putting the West Midlands tech scene on a pedestal, attracting national attention and serving as a vehicle to connect West Midlands tech start-ups and scale-ups with potential investors and big institutions.

“To have speakers from some of the biggest tech players in the world in Google, Microsoft and Amazon, alongside UK heavyweights BT, makes me confident that this will be the best Birmingham Tech Week yet.

“The support shown by UK Government and other national organisations such as NatWest, Tech Nation and Enterprise Nation shows how far we’ve come – alongside the ongoing regional support from the West Midlands Growth Company, West Midlands Combined Authority and Birmingham’s universities. A big thank you to all our partners and sponsors.

“If you haven’t already, sign-up and get involved!”

During the week a number of topics will be discussed such as 5G, FinTech, Smart Cities and Artificial Intelligence. People wishing to attend can do so by registering here.

Birmingham Tech Week is a great opportunity to show why the region is leading the way when it comes to innovation. It may be the youngest city in Europe yet it produces the most inventions per year, with nearly 65 per cent registered from the Birmingham area. Not to mention Birmingham has nearly 6,000 tech companies employing a diverse workforce of over 38,000 people – making the city the home to some serious talent.