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KEYNOTE: Why the West Midlands? Opportunities, Talent, Funding and Community

A talk by Howard Mitchell / Janice Rae, Jack Stockport / Nicola Wright, Ryan Cartwright / Robert Franks and David Grady / Yiannis Maos
HS2 / TechTalent Academy, SF Group / West Midlands Growth Company, British Business Bank / WM5G and Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games / Birmingham Tech

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About this talk

Officially the largest tech & digital cluster outside London, the West Midlands is fast-emerging as a destination for tech growth in the UK.

With a diverse range of specialisms spanning FinTech, MedTech, software and gaming, the West Midlands Hall of Tech Fame includes high-profile brands such as games developer Codemasters, IT services giant SCC and global mobile payment provider PM Connect.

So what’s the region’s secret ingredient for tech success?

Join the West Midlands Growth Company – the region’s official agency for attracting inward investment – in partnership with the Department for International Trade (DIT) and a host of top local tech experts, as they unearth the hidden gems of the West Midlands’ tech scene in this closing keynote session for Birmingham Tech Week.

In 60 minutes, you’ll learn about the exclusive opportunities for tech innovation in the region around 5G connectivity and High-Speed rail. Details of how to access funding streams, incubator and scale-up programmes, the local talent pool, and what it’s really like to live and work in the West Midlands’ tech community will also be revealed.

Howard Mitchell / Janice Rae

HOWARD MITCHELL is the Head of Innovation at HS2, his department is responsible for driving new ideas, technologies, techniques and practices across the programme. Innovation at HS2 manage a portfolio of high value projects, with the aim of creating significant value to the programme and a lasting innovation legacy for the UK. Prior to joining the programme, Howard was the Head of Innovation and Business Development at a major automotive technical centre in the UK, solving innovation challenges in transportation from a different angle. He has worked extensively in the Energy sector, as a founding member of a Corporate Venture Capital Fund for E.ON Se based in Germany, the US and UK. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .JANICE RAE works directly with the tech industry and government to support a much more diverse future pipeline. Prior to this Janice worked with the sector for 30 years helping them to position themselves as employers of choice and build on their diversity and inclusion objectives. Having a skill set that spans coding, creative and psychology (and being neurodiverse!) it became apparent to her that a much bigger and more collaborative industry approach was needed to enable a diverse tech sector.

Jack Stockport / Nicola Wright

JACK STOCKPORT heads up SF’s tech division after catching the recruitment bug back in 2014 when Zend framework was the big thing! During these 6 years, Jack has been lucky enough to work with Midlands companies ranging from FTSE 100 listed businesses through to SME digital Agencies and champions the breadth and diversity of the West Midlands talent pool as a key driver behind the regions ever-increasing technical relevance. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .NICOLA WRIGHT leads on tech and creative for inward investment at the West Midlands Growth Company. Working closely with the Department for International Trade and other communities to support tech companies to choose the WM and successfully set up in the region. Having relocated to the region with work in 2016 and with a background in telecoms and leading sales teams at enterprise software houses, Nicola understands the decisions businesses will face with growth.

Ryan Cartwright / Robert Franks

RYAN CARTWRIGHT represents the UK Network across the West Midlands and engages closely with business finance stakeholders in the region. As part of his role, Ryan also supports the delivery of the Midlands Engine Investment Fund across the region. Prior to joining the Bank, Ryan spent nine years with NatWest and RBS as a Commercial Relationship Manager, as a Business Growth Advisor for the Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce & Growth Hub, and more recently for a private funder providing cashflow finance to smaller businesses. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .ROBERT FRANKS is the Managing Director of WM5G. He is currently leading the UK’s first region-wide 5G innovation company in the West Midlands. He has extensive expertise in strategy planning and business process re-engineering for major telecommunication companies. He also has experience in leading and advising start-ups, scale-ups, growth businesses and investors in the technology, media and telecom sectors. Robert is passionate about the opportunity for new technologies to transform the way we live and work.

David Grady / Yiannis Maos

DAVID GRADY is Birmingham 2022’s Chief Financial Officer. David is a chartered accountant who originally completed his training at PWC. Most recently David joined Birmingham 2022 from Central England Co-Op where he was corporate services executive with responsibility for Finance, Property, IT, Risk and Business Intelligence. David previously worked in finance and operations roles in the Telecoms, Property and Quarrying industries. David grew up in Birmingham and now lives in Derbyshire. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .YIANNIS MAOS is the Founder of Birmingham Tech Week. Prior to this, he Co-Founded Hyve, a SaaS platform that helps brands to collaborate with their customers and help turn their loyal customers into word of mouth advocates. The first 10 years of his career was spent at Rant & Rave, where he was responsible for the marketing strategy, helping them go from a challenger brand to a well established, multi-million pound SaaS company. Yiannis has over 15 years of experience in technology, marketing and CX - specialising in helping innovative brands achieve fast-growth by developing strategic customer relationships. He has been named Central England's Young Entrepreneur of the Year, spoken at some of the UK's top business schools and mentored young marketers as part of Google's Squared programme.

Learn from amazing companies like these

Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games
TechTalent
HS2
West Midlands Growth Company
SF Recruitment
British Business Bank
West Midlands 5G

Birmingham Tech Week is proudly supported by