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Booming tech sector helping to drive Midlands event and conference industry

NEC Group

Allan Boyle, Director of Event Services for the ICC and Vox comments that the UK’s tech sector is booming and helping to drive the Midlands event and conference industry.

The ICC and the Vox are seeing an increase in events and conferences from the technology sector. Over the past two years we have welcomed a range of tech events including big names like Siemens, 3M UK and Cisco UK but also a growth in companies that support the tech industry indirectly.

This comes as no surprise when you look at the national statistics. According to research by Technation in conjunction with Dealroom for the Digital Economy Council, 2019 was a record-breaking year for investments in the UK tech sector. Investment grew to £10.1bn, a £3.1bn increase on 2018 which itself was an amazing year. The UK received more investment than Germany and France combined, that’s roughly one third of all investment in Europe in 2019.

Figures like this are impressive and very exciting, it feels that the UK economy is certainly attracting the right sort of investment but what is even more exciting for us are the statistics for the Midlands region. Technation found that between 2011 and 2016, there was a 130% increase in the number of tech start-ups in the city and that there are now over 13,000 tech companies in the West Midlands generating £5bn for the local economy. In 2018/19 alone there were 171 new foreign direct investment (FDI) tech projects in the West Midlands, creating 9,424 new jobs.

There is a lot of support for tech entrepreneurs in the region with places like Barclays Eagle Lab and the Innovation Birmingham campus which offers funding, advice and workspaces for new ventures and has incubated over 170 start-ups and secured over £56m of start-up funding to date.  

The proliferation of tech businesses in the city has led to the region being renamed ‘Silicon Canal’ on account of Birmingham’s canal heritage and this reputation will be further enhanced  when a new £3.4m virtual reality hub and technology centre is opened at the STEAMhouse in Digbeth by Birmingham City University. The hub will provide access to new mixed, augmented and virtual reality and aims to support business innovation.

At the heart of these tech businesses is the wireless network and now of course the revolution that is 5G. Birmingham was selected to be at the centre of one of the world’s first 5G test beds which will develop and test 5G in the health, construction and automotive sectors.  The results and findings will then pave the way for the future rollout of 5G across the UK.

In addition to this consider that Birmingham is the youngest major city in Europe, with under 25's accounting for nearly 40% of its population. A city well placed then to take advantage of the digital revolution and of course we have two world-class leading venues, the ICC and the Vox to assist the region in attracting and hosting the right conversations. In a digital world, face-to-face conversations are becoming increasingly valuable. Venues like ours offer people the opportunity to interact with people and we believe that this will always be vital to the success of any business.