Our vision for Birmingham’s tech ecosystem isn’t a copy of Silicon Valley, Silicon Roundabout (London) or Berlin – it’s our own flavour of tech ecosystem. Birmingham has long been a manufacturing hub – and it’s similar in tech. The city has brilliant tech talent which is significantly more affordable than in other areas. For tech focused startups, that’s a perfect combination.

Our vision

Our vision for Birmingham’s tech ecosystem isn’t a copy of Silicon Valley, Silicon Roundabout (London) or Berlin – it’s our own flavour of tech ecosystem. Birmingham has long been a manufacturing hub – and it’s similar in tech. The city has brilliant tech talent which is significantly more affordable than in other areas. For tech focused startups, that’s a perfect combination.

Our people

Silicon Canal is a not-for-profit organisation– we run it voluntarily because we care about building a bigger, stronger tech ecosystem for Greater Birmingham. Silicon Canal is a Community Interest Company (09489227).

Our goals

1. Connect: all individuals and organisations together across the ecosystem.

2. Promote: the activity of individuals and companies locally, nationally and internationally.

3. Support: the entire ecosystem to grow.

Why Silicon Canal

Why Canals? Birmingham Canal Navigations (BCN) is a network of canals connecting Birmingham, Wolverhampton, and the eastern part of the Black Country. The BCN is connected to the rest of the English canal system at several junctions. What the Canal System used to offer Birmingham for transport, Silicon Canal aims to offers the tech community in Greater Birmingham.

We’re definitely not advocates of the “Birmingham has more canals than Venice”, but in case you were interested.. Birmingham has 35 miles of canal compared with the 26 in Venice. And the entire Birmingham Canal Navigations system – a network of waterways connecting Birmingham and the Black Country – has 114 miles of waterways, though that’s less than the 174 miles it had at its peak in the 18th century. More cubic metres of water flow through Birmingham’s canals than any other city in the world.

Non-profit

Silicon Canal is totally non-profit and is run by volunteers. If you’re in tech or care about tech in Greater Birmingham, please support us.

Why Birmingham?

The youngest city in Europe, Birmingham has the largest library in the UK, more trees than Paris, is the winner of Cleanest City Award, is the birthplace of heavy metal, had the first ever Odeon Cinema, originated tennis, has the world’s largest collection of pre-Raphaelite art, and of 4,000 inventions in the UK each year, 2,800 come from Birmingham.

Talent

Birmingham is one of the UK’s major digital hubs, with over 6,000 tech firms employing some 38,300 people. There are thousands of students studying computer science or business in the city each year. Not only is there a lot of tech talent in Birmingham, but hiring talent as a business is also easier with less competition from the large London corporations like Google and Facebook.

Cost

Birmingham’s low cost of living makes wages low and quality of life high. For example, average rent for a two-bed flat in Birmingham is £665 versus £1,516 in London. ASOS recently opened an office in Birmingham citing 50% lower costs for tech talent compared to London.

Ecosystem

Birmingham has a vibrant tech ecosystems with regular tech events. Look at our “People” or “Where” tab to explore the different startups, larger companies, office spaces, investors and more in Birmingham. ASOS CTO Peter Marsden said in a Telegraph article “Birmingham has the space, talent and vision we are looking for .. the unique culture of Birmingham’s digital cluster and it’s potential to become an e-commerce hub sealed the deal for us.”

Livable

The city has brilliant food at really affordable prices – other than it’s four Michelin-starred restaurants (more than any other city in England outside London) there are loads of small independent restaurants and farmers markets. It’s not all about the city centre – for example, explore Harborne, Kings Heath, Moseley or The Jewellery Quarter.

Profile photo of Jodie Cook

Jodie Cook

Board Member

Profile photo of Jodie Cook

Jodie Cook

Board Member

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Leigh Purnell

Board Member

Profile photo of Leigh Purnell

Leigh Purnell

Board Member

I founded and run Petalite, a startup that has developed the World's Fastest Charging Battery System, 100% recharge in under 15 minutes, I also have been on other ludicrous expeditions which has led me to write a book, blogs and magazine articles about them, do public speaking at various events and consult on Expedition Logistics and acquiring Sponsorship for Expeditions.I am a seasoned project manager, innovator and have a keen interest in energy technologies and implementations; both throughout my working and academic life. Petalite Limited was founded in 2014 to expand on these ideas and interests.I co-founded and project managed a Guinness World Record breaking global expedition; raising £20,000 in donations and awareness for the British Red Cross and generating over £80,000 in advertising revenue to support the expedition.Became a Double Guinness World Record Holder:-World’s Longest Journey by Taxi-World’s Highest Journey by Taxi

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Nick Holzherr

Board Member

Profile photo of Nick Holzherr

Nick Holzherr

Board Member

Nick is a serial entrepreneur and the CEO of HR software company Air (www.joinair.com) and food tech company Whisk.com. He raised over $2m in funding from technology investors and pitched Whisk.com to Lord Sugar after getting to the final of the BBC Apprentice 2012, where he achieved the series' best task-win record.   Nick was recently awarded an honorary doctorate in enterprise from Aston University.  Nick and his businesses have been featured in leading publications including Newsweek, The Guardian, The Telegraph, bbc.co.uk and The Next Web and have won multiple awards including a Cisco BIG award, The Drum’s "One to Watch" honours and The Grocer’s "Top New Talent" award. Nick also blogs at nickholzherr.com and is available on twitter under @nickholzherr.

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Simon Jenner

Board Member

Profile photo of Simon Jenner

Simon Jenner

Board Member

Aged 26, Simon started Trinity Security Services, a Cyber Security services company. A successful exit of Trinity via trade sale took place in 2008. Simon is now involved in multiple businesses including Urban an independent retail Cafe chain. Simon has a passion for supporting other entrepreneurs and for the last 10 years Simon has been working with entrepreneurs from across the world firstly through running Birmingham’s only technology incubator and then moving to become the CEO of a leading technology accelerator. The technology accelerator was voted a European top 10 accelerator by the Guardian newspaper. Simon has helped over 50 startups go from idea to investment, raising in excess of £10 million equity investment. Simon’s passion for entrepreneurs and particularly technology entrepreneurs goes beyond the day job and has seen him found Birmingham Entrepreneurs (the largest entrepreneurs group outside of London) and Co-Found Silicon Canal, Birmingham’s answer to London’s tech city. In 2016 Simon was listed in the Maserati 100 for his work with entrepreneurs and listed as a Power 250: The West Midlands’ most influential people in creative and digital.

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Support Silicon Canal

Start or support a tech meetup / event in Birmingham, attend our meetings and tell people you meet, mentor or invest in a startup, or even sponsor an event!

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Tech events: Forking Bitcoin - Is This Finally Armageddon? is on Jul 20, 2017 08:00PM find out more here zpr.io/yVTK

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