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“The Power of Us”: Why we’re sponsoring TEDxBrum 2016

Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce

“The Power of Us”: Why we’re sponsoring TEDxBrum 2016

Birmingham is, and always has been, a melting pot of ideas and cultures. But in a city of this size it is very easy for good things to happen in isolation. Through my role at the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce I see a lot of it.

The Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce are a not-for-dividend membership organisation. We exist to connect, support and grow the local business community in all its forms. Of our 2,600 members, two-thirds are companies with fewer than 10 employees and, at the other end of the scale, 11% have over 100 employees (5% 250 +). They’re a diverse bunch ranging from tech start-ups to blue chips, small charities and sole traders to universities. Just our manufacturing members can make you everything from artisanal calligraphy pen nibs to aeronautical machinery. You can find out more about us here.

I lead on our campaigns and stakeholder engagement. As a result, a significant amount of my time is spent talking to people from across the sectors - business owners, community leaders, educators, public sector organisations and beyond.

Rarely a week goes by where I don’t learn about something new from our members and partners. It might be a new initiative aimed at tackling youth unemployment or a business pioneering innovative ways of working. An inspirational partnership between an employer and a charity or cutting edge university led research into next generation technologies or ways of reducing the length of hospital stays.

In fact you’ve probably never even have heard of half of what’s happening - and therein lies the problem. There’s so much going on in and around our city it’s literally impossible to keep track of it all and I feel like I barely scratch the surface. The possibilities of what we could learn from each other, and the impact we could make, if we could just join the right dots and turn innovation in isolation into city-wide collaboration, are limitless.

I and my colleagues try to make as many connections as we can but we can always do more and, more importantly, help enable others to do the same. That’s why I’m delighted that the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce are sponsoring TEDxBrum 2016.

This year’s TEDxBrum challenges us all; private, public and civic sectors to connect and investigate how we can pioneer a better city together. And the issue is a pressing one. Public sector cuts are reducing the role local government and public funding play in the city. There is a real risk of vacuums opening up in local community and city-wide leadership and even more of this good work falling between the cracks or not receiving the support it needs to flourish. We’re a city built on collaboration and embracing innovation. I look forward to seeing, and being part of, the new partnerships, conversations and action that come from this event.

Henrietta Brealey is the Director of Policy & Strategic Relationships at the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce. She is a Director & Trustee of the women’s refuge and empowerment charity Women Acting in Today’s Society (W.A.I.T.S) and an UpRising Birmingham Emerging Leaders Advisory Board member.