Tech Nation’s tour around the UK arrives in Birmingham today to shine a light on a tech sector which has been boosted by a 5G trial.

The West Midlands city is building on its engineering history and success in manufacturing with a new focus on digital technology.

Entrepreneurs, founders and tech ecosystem experts will assemble at Fazeley Studios for Tech Nation on Tour where they will debate the opportunities for developing start-ups in the West Midlands.

Data on Birmingham will be presented by Tech Nation’s insights team which will feed into a discussion on the challenges faced by local entrepreneurs and start-ups.

BusinessCloud also has an event lined up in the city at Innovation Birmingham on 23rd October, which is free to attend.

→ Top speakers lined up for Could Birmingham's tech sector rival London? on 23rd October 2018. Book now

The panel discussion on Wednesday will be moderated by Cliff Dennett, head of business development at Innovation Birmingham and will involve the CEOs of two Birmingham tech companies – Melissa Snover, CEO at Magic Candy Factory and Jill Palmer, CEO of Click Travel – as well as Julia Hawkins, partner at venture capital firm LocalGlobe and Tong Gu, investment lead at investor ADV.

MB Christie, chief operations officer at Tech Nation, said: “Birmingham’s digital tech sector has been growing quickly but we anticipate even more growth is to come as investment is attracted to the region by new infrastructure including the trial of 5G networks.

“One of the most impressive stats about Birmingham is also that its talent pool is the second most diverse in the country (after London). This bodes well for companies that move or base themselves here, particularly when recruiting skilled staff is a challenge.”

The Midlands city is seeing entrepreneurs choose to base themselves in the West Midlands region and is primed for rapid growth in the next few years, as West Midlands mayor Andy Street steps up the focus on the digital technology sector.

Earlier this month, it was announced that Birmingham had beaten off other regions to become the UK’s first large-scale test bed for 5G technology.

The technology, which provides broadband speeds up to 100x faster than 4G, could see buses, hospitals and the emergency services use 5G to better get information to customers and patients.

Melissa Snover, CEO at Magic Candy Factory, chose to base her 3D printing business because of a 3D printing degree at Birmingham University.

“We started our business here because it has excellent transport links to London and the rest of the UK and is surrounded by prestigious universities who specialise in 3D printing, as well as having many other creative and innovative start-up businesses,” she said.

“It’s a helpful, thriving start-up community and initiatives like the Midlands Engine Investment fund are really creating a buzz around the region.”

According to Tech Nation research, Birmingham’s digital tech sector grew steadily between 2006 and 2016, with a 351% increase in the number of businesses formed per year.

One of the region’s best known digital tech companies is video games maker Codemasters, which listed on the UK AIM market in June, raising £185 million.

Headquartered in Leamington Spa, 28 miles from Birmingham, Codemasters is the company that creates official Formula One games and has helped to stimulate a network of gaming companies in the area. 

Ross Spencer, head of marketing at Click Travel, a Birmingham next-generation travel management company which has recently attracted multi-million pound investment, said: “There’s a real confidence about the city now which is great to see.

“For Click Travel Birmingham is a great place to base a business that is outward looking and has ambitions to revolutionise business travel through embracing new technology.”

Tech Nation will also be launching Rising Stars, a new national competition for early-stage tech companies at the Birmingham event. 

Rising Stars builds on the success of Northern Stars which has successfully supported over 30 companies in the last three years.

The competition aims to find the UK’s best tech startups from all across the UK, and provide them with a great package of prizes to raise their profile and help them take their startup to the next level.  Applications are open now at https://technation.io/rising-stars/.