Jo Birch - Director of Innovation, Enterprise and Employability and the STEAMhouse team*.
STEAMhouse was opened in October 2022 at a cost of £75 million. With dedicated facilities including product development, maker space, business incubation, and specialist AR/VR discovery services; and through working with interdisciplinary research partnerships, the Government-backed initiative has bridged a regional gap in provision to drive innovative solutions to complex societal challenges, using science, digital transformation and creativity to underpin progress.
The Innovation Awards were created to recognise, celebrate and reward companies, individuals and organisations dedicated to innovation. Richard Scutt, Head of Growth and Incubation at STEAMhouse, said 'This year’s ceremony secured the highest ever number of nominees with over 22,000 people posting over 90,000 votes.
STEAMhouse was shortlisted alongside some leading examples of organisation-led innovation such as Wolverhampton University’s Spark Innovation Hub. After we were nominated, it then went to a public vote which reduced the shortlist to 5. We were then interviewed by a panel of judges who assessed what we did to nurture and promote innovation, so it was fantastic to secure the win.'
Richard continued 'In terms of entrepreneurship and innovation the judges saw how we supported students and graduates through the annual hatchery programme designed for those with an innovative and exciting business idea who wish to develop it into a viable business. In part due to the success of STEAM-based business support, BCU is ranked 14th nationally and 1st in the West Midlands for business start-ups.
They also saw first-hand our support for local entrepreneurs and businesses using our Incubator and Accelerator Production and Studio spaces, as well as our programme of events, business Innovation Services and Membership options. They also cited the vibe and buzz of STEAMhouse which is fostering innovation through a unique collaboration between students, graduates, academics, and local businesses.
The awards raised the fantastic sum of £8,473.50 for Acorns Children’s Hospice on the night, Friday 27 October 2023. BCU was also shortlisted for Manufacturing Innovation Champion for the Help to Grow scheme, whilst the SuperTech project, for which BCU is the accountable body, was nominated under Tech Innovation Champion.
*From left to right - Sophia Tarr, Business Partnerships Manager - STEAMhouse, Patrick Bek - Head of Service Innovation and Experimentation, STEAMhouse, Jennine Jones - Enterprise Manager, Jo Birch - Director of Innovation, Enterprise and Employability, Alice Wynne - Head of Sales, STEAMhouse, John Plumridge - Director of Estates and Facilities and Richard Scutt - Head of Growth and Incubation - STEAMhouse.)