Birmingham has everything businesses need… but it must market itself better

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Gateley Legal

Regional forward thinkers say Birmingham needs to rethink its branding if we are to become more competitive.

The call for Birmingham to shout more loudly about what makes it great was made at a regional business conference this week, where speakers and panellists spoke of the need to create disruption to drive innovation.

Robert Franks, Managing Director of WM5G; David Hardman, CEO of Innovation Birmingham and Oli Hills, CEO of Updates Media all spoke passionately about the confidence within the city as creative businesses come together to feed off a young and diverse workforce who are already making big changes on the world's stage.

David Hardman explained: "We need to stop comparing ourselves to Manchester, Leeds and London, our real competitors are Boston and Beijing.  We need to think more globally.

“The rollout of 5G will attract talent and HS2 will mean quicker links with London to bring people in, but we need a reason for them to want to stay here and set-up shop.  We need finance and we need to market the city better as a whole and shout about the success stories we already have."

Oli Hills echoed the feelings of his co-panellist, commenting: “People here are much more willing to help each other and its far easier to build a network in the city, than it is London.  It’s also cheaper to live, with a huge amount of young talent available from local universities.”

“We need to work with our universities to develop the skills our region needs and to create the jobs and culture that will make them want to stay.  We need to invest in talent.”

Robert Franks added: “Physical infrastructure is only half of the story, the way in which people work has changed significantly in a short space of time and so ensuring the best possible digital infrastructure is essential. 

“We also need to promote our region more cohesively as a technology innovation centre and provide better access to finance to attract more digital entrepreneurs and industries.

“The city has no unicorns, we need the marketing and finance here to change that and to attract the creative talent to the successful industries that are already based in Birmingham.”

The conference, organised by legal and professional services group Gateley, welcomed business leaders from across the region to discuss the concept of disruption on business, bringing together experts who have already created positive disruption in their own organisations, to discuss the financial and restructuring implications of disruption on the future of business.

Delegates heard from Ian Johnson, CEO of Engenie; Sharonjit Clare, co-founder of West Midlands Women's Voice; Milly Camley, CEO of the Institute for Turnaround; former BBC Apprentice finalist, Nick Holzherr of; and Charles Jones, partner at Kiddy & Partners and part of Gateley.

Dan French, a partner in Gateley Legal’s Restructuring team, said: “The Midlands is a great place to be and Birmingham is leading by example with the delivery of significant transformation projects to improve the way we live, work and commute.  All of today's speakers have driven disruption to create great transformation in the region.”

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