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Birmingham: The home of the startup

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The tech recruitment market in Birmingham is buzzing. Since the start of this year, we’ve had several companies approach us looking to hire 50+ software developers and engineers in the city. Last year I spoke to just one or two companies with such ambitious growth plans, indicating that the year ahead looks promising for this dynamic city.

Birmingham is fast becoming the number one destination for startups. According to figures released by StartUp Britain, based on data from Companies House, 17,473 businesses were registered in Birmingham in 2016, an increase of 25% year-on-year. This is nearly double that of Manchester, which, with 9.416 new businesses in 2016, falls into second place. According to data from the Office for National Statistics, Birmingham also became the country’s leading city for business growth in 2016, surpassing even London. The city is an attractive proposition for startups and has been the number one regional destination for new businesses for four years in a row.

Birmingham: the city with innovation at its heart

Earmarked as the enterprise capital, 2,800 of the inventions copyrighted in the UK each year now come from Birmingham and the surrounding area. Tech in particular is on the up and Birmingham is home to 6,000 technology firms employing around 38,300 people.

Historically, Birmingham has always been at the cutting-edge of tech. From the creation of the bicycle bell to the photocopier – even the wheels on roller skates and skateboards – Birmingham has been a hub of innovation for hundreds of years.

With 40% of the population under the age of 25, Birmingham holds the title as the youngest city in Europe. Its city-centre universities boast 65,000 students – meaning there’s a pool of young talent to draw from. Culturally diverse, 42% of Birmingham’s one million inhabitants are from an ethnic group other than white. And it is the city’s youth and diversity that are nurturing a culture of innovation.

Rent is affordable, with the average monthly cost of a two-bed flat just £665, compared to London’s £1,516. Salaries are on the rise, and companies are starting to offer remuneration similar to that in London. This is particularly true for skilled workers such as DevOps and developers. On the contractor side, rates are starting to increase, too, as businesses look to attract talent from The City.

Home of the Balti, it has a thriving restaurant scene as well as the most Michelin Stars outside of London. With the largest library in the UK and more trees than the whole of Paris, Birmingham is one of a kind.

Birmingham’s thriving business community

What sets Birmingham apart from other cities? As well as its innovative culture, there’s a clear dedication to community and supporting emerging businesses, which has clearly helped build a thriving infrastructure for new companies.

There’s a large amount of seed and funding pumping into the city, which gives an encouraging forecast for growth in the year ahead. Startup Direct, has designated £1 million in seed finance to help fund 200 new startup businesses in Birmingham over the next 12 months.

Similarly, projects such as Silicon Canal, help nurture enterprise in the business community. A not-for-profit organisation run by volunteers, Silicon Canal aims to build a stronger tech ecosystem in Birmingham via networking. Although it’s more compact than London, one of Birmingham’s greatest business strengths is its community feel. Networking at conferences is much simpler as the smaller number of people means that there’s a side-view awareness of most of the key players in each space – unlike in London where the vastness makes this kind of in-depth knowledge nigh impossible.

So ingrained is the innovative mind-set that there’s a whole campus dedicated to it. Innovation Birmingham has over 120 digital technology businesses, from brand new startups to companies with million-pound turnovers. There are five incubators on campus, including e5f, which focuses on more general software and hardware businesses. Climate-KIC, a European network of clean tech accelerators geared towards bringing global-warming-reducing-tech to market, is also on-site.

The recruitment needs of startups

While bright, young things are often the staple recruitment go-to of the tech industry, we’ve noticed companies shifting their hiring patterns, as they look to hire those with a few years’ experience under their belts. In particular, organisations are looking for candidates with experience corporate-side, to help implement more formalised processes in this fresh-faced business community. This lean towards experience will likely be more effective for the future scalability and growth of the industry.

When it comes to recruitment for startups, a talent partner is essential. This must be a company with an in-depth understanding of the industry so that they can really find the skills you need, alongside a good culture fit.

If you’re considering moving your business to the Midlands and are wondering what it means for your recruitment needs, or you’re looking for high-skilled staff in this area, then get in touch with the team at Talent International today for a consultation.

 

If you’re looking for a new role in Birmingham speak to Andy– andrew.ward@talentinternational.com

Andrew Ward