‘Best in Class’: Business Support award for innovation team

Birmingham City Council’s Business Development and Innovation (BDI) Team, part of the Economy Directorate, has won a prestigious award from the Federation of Small Businesses.

The team received a ‘Best in Class Highly Commended Business Support’ accolade, earlier this month.

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) held the 6th Staffordshire & West Midlands Area Local Authority Small Business Friendly Awards on Thursday 12 July 2018. The awards recognises and celebrates the great and often unsung work delivered by the 15 local authorities across the area on behalf of FSB members and other small businesses. The calibre of entries was truly outstanding and, as a result, the ‘Highly Commended’ awards was made to Birmingham City Council to enable FSB to officially recognise the excellent work being delivered by its crucial partners.

The BDI team’s remit is to stimulate growth of small and medium-sized enterprises through a number of support packages aimed at generating private sector investment and ultimately creating employment opportunities.

The team has experienced project managers and staff with specialist skills in finance, marketing, governance, ICT and project delivery. Over the past 20-years the team has developed strong partnerships at European, central, regional and local Government levels to bring resources into the city and region.

Between 2012/15 the team successfully delivered a £93m package of support to help businesses grow across the West Midlands; sourced from a combination of Central Government and the EU funds, the programme created 4,500 new jobs, generated £85m in private sector investment and helped to grow 1,000 businesses in the region. As a result of the successful delivery of this programme, Birmingham was recognised as the ‘Most Enterprising Place in Britain 2016’.

On the back of this success, the BDI team secured a further £37m from the European Regional Development Fund to deliver the ‘Business Growth Programme’ (BGP). The programme operates across the Greater Birmingham and Solihull, The Marches, and Stoke-On-Trent/ Staffordshire LEP areas. Formally launched in June 2016, the programme ends in December 2018. To-date it has supported over 400 businesses, generated £33m private sector investment, and created over 1,300 job opportunities.

Looking ahead, the team is in the process of securing a further £33m to continue the Business Growth Programme until March 2022, and to launch a new ‘GBSLEP Skills Fund’ aimed at upskilling existing employees in small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs).

Mohammed Zahir, Head of Business Enterprise and Innovation, said:

“Over the years, the team has been very successful in delivering a number of support packages achieving significant business growth. The BDI uses business intelligence and consults key partners to better understand the needs of businesses when designing support packages to maximise their impact.”

Karen Woolley, Development Manager for FSB Staffordshire & West Midlands Area, said:

“Through delivering these awards over the past few years, what has become abundantly clear year on year is that, through budget cuts, diminishing resources and, of course, 12 July marking 261 days till we leave the EU and the uncertainty that this move has caused and continues to cause to small businesses, our engagement with our critical partners has gone from strength to strength. We can confidently say that we are both pleased and proud to be in partnership with them all. The commitment and drive amongst those organisations to help small businesses to survive and prosper has never been more evident than through our awards process. The calibre of entries tells us that all of our partners absolutely get the needs and barriers to growth for our members and other small businesses and it is incredibly reassuring to see the amount of work and effort which is going on in key areas to address this.”

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