BCU gets £14 million to transform Typhoo factory through innovative STEAMHouse project


The Government is to give Birmingham City University £14 million to transform the former Typhoo tea factory into a collaborative innovation centre for solving the challenges facing SMEs in the West Midland region.

Business Secretary Sajid Javid visited the site on Thursday 17 March to see first-hand how the funding will support the development of the Government’s Midlands Engine, with the University’s STEAMHouse project driving the creation of up to 10,000 jobs and regenerating Birmingham’s long-neglected Digbeth area. 

Business Secretary Sajid Javid said: 

“Today we're here to mark the investment in this exciting new STEAMhouse project. It's a project between universities, the creative industries, which the Midlands is very well known for, and also businesses – all working together to create a new innovation centre, which will then lead to new discoveries, new work and new jobs. The estimate is that it could eventually create 10,000 jobs.” 

The first phase of the scheme will be delivered in partnership with Eastside Projects and see the creation of a new production space and workshop for artists.

Birmingham City University Pro Vice Chancellor, Professor Julian Beer, said the investment would have a huge impact on the city, economically and physically.

“Through this investment Birmingham City University is continuing its role in regenerating the Digbeth area of the city, an area of enormous untapped economic and social potential.

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The University and Gooch Estates propose to partner to deliver the redevelopment of the currently derelict tea factory which will see the creation of space for STEAMHouse and a range of co-working, artist production, incubation and networking facilities.

The development is in part a response to a range of reports which indicate that small businesses across the West Midlands are lagging behind on collaborative innovation. By linking academic research and the vibrant creative arts scene in Digbeth, the University hopes to develop a new supply chain across the region.

The news of government support comes just a month after the Arts Council injected £500,000 into the STEAMHouse initiative through its Creative Local Growth Fund, which will be matched by the European Regional Development Fund.

The boost comes as Chancellor George Osborne announced on Wednesday 16 March a wider £250 million funding package to help kick-start the Midlands' economy.

The Midlands Engine Investment Fund has been secured by the region's Local Enterprise Partnerships and the British Business Bank to support small and medium sized businesses.

The investment also promises to accelerate the development of the city's Knowledge Hub, which brings together a host of education providers across the West Midlands to develop the skills and infrastructure needed for economic growth.

Dawn Ashman, Director Creative Industries and Birmingham, Arts Council England, said:

"Arts and culture play a vital role in Birmingham and across the Midlands, enriching people's lives and fuelling the region's creative industries. That's why we've been investing in the development of STEAMHouse through our Grants for the arts and Creative Local Growth fund.

"It's a fantastic example of how the Arts Council's funding can support individual artists to take an ambitious idea and make it a reality. The £14 million investment announced for STEAMHouse by the Chancellor is a major vote of confidence for the project and the role of culture and creativity in driving economic growth."

Andrew Carr, Chief Operating Officer for the Digital Catapult, said:

"The Digital Catapult is delighted to be collaborating with Birmingham City University and the STEAMHouse project to actively promote the sharing of data for innovation in the flourishing creative economy across the West Midlands.

"By helping to bring together previously closed data sets in a secure and neutral environment, together we can unlock the inherent value of this data for economic growth, innovation and productivity. This fully aligns with our mission to develop breakthroughs for the UK's data sharing movement and create a national network of partners and centres around the UK."

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