West Midlands Innovation Accelerator aims to ignite growth and innovation in the region
The West Midlands Combined Authority has announced the West Midlands Innovation Accelerator, which has received a portion of a new £100 million fund from Innovate UK. The Innovation Accelerator, which is aimed at enhancing the region’s innovation and R&D capabilities, as well as promoting commercial growth and investment, will include the participation of the University of Birmingham.
Over the next two years, the fund will be divided among three regional Innovation Accelerators. The Innovation Accelerator aims to accelerate engineering R&D, attract inward investment, and reinforce the West Midlands’ position in the forefront of the UK innovation revolution by enabling businesses to develop new products, processes, and services. The West Midlands Innovation Board has earmarked investment for five projects, which will help to create innovative solutions in Medical and Clean Technologies.
Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands: “I’m delighted to see the Innovation Accelerator fund finally land in our region which will unlock a further £150m of private sector co-investment. The funding will inject momentum into the delivery of the West Midlands Plan for Growth which sets out how we will unlock hundreds of thousands of new jobs and be home to major global companies in this decade.”
The 6D Innovation Accelerator project, led by the University of Birmingham, is a collaborative effort that involves key stakeholders such as universities, hospitals, industry, and government-funded manufacturing innovation ‘Catapults’ to enhance the region’s capacity to speed up the development of new health and medical technologies. The project’s goal is to provide a simplified framework to assist companies in overcoming obstacles in the process of medical translation.
Professor Liam Grover, of the University of Birmingham’s Healthcare Technologies Institute, said: “Taking health and medical technologies into the market place can be a minefield of regulatory, funding and management issues. We aim to develop clear processes that will help companies navigate the obstacles and deliver marketable products that will enhance people’s lives.”
The 6Ds include:
- Diagnosis of company needs
- Definition of major NHS and industry-based challenges to target
- Development and refinement of prototype products
- Deployment of innovation in real-world NHS settings
- Diversification of supply chains, skills and services
- Demonstration of significant economic and health benefits for our region
The University of Birmingham is involved in a second project, called Digital Innovation Transformative Change (DIATOMIC), which is spearheaded by the Connected Places Catapult, the UK’s innovation accelerator for cities, transport, and place leadership. Other partners in the project include Aston University, Birmingham City Council, Birmingham City University, and the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce.
DIATOMIC aims to accelerate innovation in the West Midlands by leveraging the region’s existing international relationships and targeted initiatives to grow the clean tech, health tech, and med tech markets. The project will enable civic leaders to create innovation challenges, support local SMEs in responding, and benefit the community through the UK’s first inclusive innovation hub. It will also promote the use of data to facilitate better place-based decision-making and develop an impact assessment toolkit.
Announcing the Innovation Accelerator, Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, and chair of the WMCA, said: “I’m delighted to see the Innovation Accelerator fund finally land in our region which will unlock a further £150m of private sector co-investment. The funding will inject momentum into the delivery of the West Midlands Plan for Growth which sets out how we will unlock hundreds of thousands of new jobs and be home to major global companies in this decade.
“One of my key mayoral missions is to restore our status as the fastest growing region outside of London – just as we were pre-pandemic. Innovation is central to achieving that mission.
“We’re already a leading region for UK innovation when it comes to automotive and aerospace – with every £1 of Government spending for Research & Development translating into £4 of business investment. This latest news will help us to build on our progress to date – with the Government’s forthcoming Trailblazer Devolution Deal and proposed programme of Investment Zones set to usher in exciting times ahead.”