A recent report estimates that the digital tech sector will add more than £2 billion to the West Midlands economy and create around 14,000 jobs. It’s also been reported that the digital economy is growing at twice the rate of the wider UK economy. Universities have a vital role to play in supplying the sector with the skilled graduates that businesses need.
For the past 3 years, Birmingham City University has played its part by hosting an annual event called Innovation Fest, where teams of students are tasked with developing a tech product to meet a market need. At the event, which has grown year on year, industry partners converge to judge a competition between the teams, and identify the most promising projects.
BCU understand that every event, whilst organised for the development of their students, also offers an excellent chance to show others the kind of opportunities they offer, and the exciting projects and career pathways students can access.
It’s vital not just for universities, but businesses of any size to foster and grow long-term, mutually beneficial partnerships with other organisations. At Innovation Fest, BCU team up with big businesses such as The Co-operative and Microsoft, and business incubators such as Technoport. The benefit for the students is that they get experienced business people to come and mentor them, and discuss ideas and working processes.
For their part, businesses can come and see what new ideas the students are coming up with. They can assess students’ suitability for roles in their organisation, and be on the lookout for ideas which can address a market need.
You can see the benefits Innovation Fest provides for students and business alike. It’s a challenge for students to prepare themselves for employment and life after study, but Innovation Fest helps students develop an entrepreneurial mindset which businesses really value.
The real strength of the above video is the excitement and rich potential it communicates. It promotes the university and taps into their identity as an institution. I’ve done a lot of projects with them over the last few years, and BCU are excellent at giving priority to applied knowledge. You can see this focus throughout their promotional material.
For BCU, it’s about investing in people, and making their students as employable as they can be. Events like Innovation Fest are evidence of this approach in action.