University researching the needs of businesses in Jewellery Quarter

Experts at Birmingham City University (BCU) are conducting research into the possible creation of a business incubation space in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter, in order to support growth of the creative industries in the area.

Posted 23 August 2022

Greg Fattorini, Managing Director of Thomas Fattorini & Sons, Matthew Bott, Director of JQDT, Peter Taylor, Director of The Goldsmiths Centre, Beverley Nielsen, Associate Professor, Birmingham City University

Business incubation space to aid growth

The Institute for Design, Economic Acceleration and Sustainability (IDEAS) has been commissioned by The Jewellery Quarter Development Trust (JQDT) to survey local businesses so the proposed Jewellery Quarter Incubator can best address their needs.

The survey is being funded by the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GBSLEP), on behalf of both the JQDT and the Jewellery Quarter Cultural Action Zone.

It can be completed online and closes on Wednesday 31 August.

Clarifying connections and highlighting business needs

The survey builds on research IDEAS has previously conducted in 2016 and looks to address the concerns that certain skills are beginning to diminish.

“For some time, there’s been a concern about the jewellery industry cluster being in decline,” explains Beverley Nielsen, an Associate Professor at BCU who leads IDEAS with fellow academic Steve McCabe.

“While certain parts are thriving and new technologies are being harnessed, there’s a recognition that hand, craft and bench skills are diminishing as people retire.

“Integral parts of the industry – polishing, plating, stone setting, antiquing and repairing amongst others – could be lost.”

The survey will also look to highlight the particular features of the Jewellery Quarter industry cluster and clarify some of its many interconnections.

“These businesses are buying and selling off each other regularly, becoming interdependent,” Beverley explains. “We will look to establish the key strengths and weakness, skills gaps, and look at how talent might be retained and developed.”

So far, Beverley and IDEAS have spoken with over 30 businesses. However, she is keen to ensure organisations from outside of the jewellery industry also engage.

“The broader creative industries in the Jewellery Quarter complement and enhance the traditional offer,” Beverley explains. “Therefore, it’s really important that non-jewellery creative businesses participate in the survey.”

How to better support Birmingham’s creative industries

The Jewellery Quarter has a vibrant and esteemed history. Currently, there are estimated to be over 600 firms and over 4,000 employees working within its creative industries.

According to Matthew Bott – Jewellery Quarter Development Trust Broad Director and Co-Chair of the Jewellery Quarter Neighbourhood Pan – the survey will investigate how an incubator could nurture and grow existing companies.

“This survey will establish what more can be done to support creative industries in the area,” he says.

“For entrepreneurs, we see the opportunity for a range of business support services, including access to physical and virtual space, coaching and skills development. It’s really important that people give us the benefit of their in-depth experience.”

A sparkling history

BCU has a long and successful relationship with the Jewellery Quarter, as well as the industry in general.

The University’s School of Jewellery is the home of BBC’s flagship show All That Glitters, a highly successful series that sees some of the UK’s best jewellers compete.

This, combined with IDEAS’ experience of working with businesses across a range of sectors, made BCU a natural choice to help conduct the research.

“At IDEAS, we work closely with startups and businesses, assisting with business planning, funding and marketing, as well as helping companies to progress to the next stage of development,” Beverley explains.

“It is great to work closely with organisations in the Jewellery Quarter, bringing our experience of collaborating with businesses to see how we can best serve the area and help businesses thrive.”

The survey can be completed here.