The Institute for Design and Economic Acceleration (IDEA) promotes the links between design and brand-led cultures in accelerating growth. Working with over 45 start-ups and with SMEs, especially owner-managed manufacturing businesses (as well as some larger brands), it works to help them progress to next stage business development, while promoting regional policies supporting inclusive and sustainable economic growth in construction, transport, energy, health and creative clusters.

Through IDEA Institute, Beverley Nielsen, Associate Professor, works with start-ups to bring them to market and close the gap between tech development and market application. She assists with business planning, network development and promotion, funding, ensuring robust management, marketing and protection of new applications. For more information, contact Beverley Nielsen or Steve McCabe

Books and papers

Both Beverley and Steve have produced a number of publications, including:

  • West Midlands New Homes Programme, 2019, for Building Alliance, written by Dr Steve McCabe, Beverley Nielsen and Mike Leonard
  • Midlands Airports an Asset for Growth, September 2018, for Midlands Engine Business Forum, written by Beverley Nielsen
  • Jewellery Quarter Property Requirement Survey, IDEA Institute, written by Dr Steve McCabe and Beverley Nielsen
  • Countdown to Brexit, Interim Report Produced for West Midlands Productivity & Skills Commission, West Midlands Combined Authority, September 2017, written by Beverley Nielsen
  • Jewellery Quarter Industry Cluster Survey, September 2016, for Thomas Fattorini Ltd and Neighbourhood Forum, written by Beverley Nielsen, Dr Steve McCabe, Greg Fattorini
  • Looking for Growth, Sack the Economists and Hire a Designer, 2012, written by Beverley Nielsen and Catherine McGrath
Find out more
Further publications
A full list of Steve McCabe's research output - including journal articles, papers and more - can be found on his academic profile.

Blogs and case studies

You can access some of IDEA's case studies here. Both Beverley and Steve also regularly blog - you can find their work on the Design Innovation website and through the Centre for Brexit Studies.

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IDEA Growth Panel Members, Supporters and Survey Respondents

Advanced Anaerobics Ltd, Afore UK, Aggregate Industries, Alcraft, Alucast, Black Country Chamber of Commerce, Birmingham International Airport, Birmingham Business Focus, Building Alliance, Bosch Thermotechnology, Brooks England Saddles, BSA Technologies, Carvers Builders Merchants, C Brandauer Ltd, Clayton Equipment, Clevedon Fasteners, Colas, Colemore Tang, Conigital, Drive Midlands, East Midlands Airport, Thomas Fattorini Ltd, Global Energy Efficiency Holdings (GEEH), Gilca, GKN plc, Hodgkinson Builders, Industry Forum, Institute for Sustainable Futures, Jonathan Lee Group, Ultra Light Rail Partners, Make UK Midlands, Marley Eternit, JRL Midgard, Midlands Engine Business Forum, Midlands Heart, Morgan Technologies, National Federation of Builders, Parry People Movers, Pashley Holdings, Penso Consulting, Powerflow Energy, Premier Group, PreMetro Operations, Prime Hybrid Energy,, RenteCars, Renewable Risk Advisors, RPServices, Spectrum Communications, Sustraco, Tyseley Energy Park, Wastemaster, Webster & Horsfall, Whg, W Kings Ltd, BE Wedge Group Galvanising, West Midlands Growth Company, University of Wolverhampton Built Environment and Climate Change Initiative Programme

IDEA's Beverley Nielsen recently sat down with Sir Vince Cable to discuss his role new role within IDEA, what the future holds for him now and what he thinks of Boris Johnson as PM.

IDEA contacts

Beverley Nielsen

Executive Director and Associate Professor

Beverley has worked for Birmingham City University for over a decade in a variety of exciting roles. Positions have included Business Development Manager for Birmingham Institute of Art and Design, as well as Director of Corporate Affairs for the institution. Beverley spent a decade in business as Director of the FTSE-250 company AGA Rangemaster and Managing Director of subsidiary retail business Fired Earth. She spent over a decade as European Policy Advisor for the CBI, where her research on non-tariff barriers on British business was published in a report of the House of Lords Select Committee on European Communities. She was also the Chief Executive of the Heart of England Tourist Board.

Dr Steve McCabe

Steve McCabe

Associate Professor, IDEA

Steve is an accomplished lecturer, researcher and economist, with considerable knowledge of business, manufacturing and construction. Steve has worked with organisations in both the private and public sectors in understanding how people are crucial when it comes to long-term development, innovation and creativity. Drawing on his economics expertise, Steve regularly provides commentary and contributions for local, national and international media outlets in press, radio and television. Steve is also a Fellow of the University's Centre for Brexit Studies, and regularly provides blogs and think pieces for the Centre. He has lectured at Birmingham City University since 1987, has authored three texts examining quality improvement techniques and produced numerous chapters in edited texts, conference papers and more.

Got an IDEA? Get in touch: