How Fintech accelerators are driving innovation

As FinTech continues on a path of upwards growth in this country, Birmingham’s tech scene is going from strength to strength thanks to dedicated FinTech accelerators. A recent KPMG report has highlighted that over £2bn of venture capital has been invested in UK startups since the start of the year. The lion share of these funds has been ploughed into later-stage deals startups are finalising with other scaleup businesses. This is indicative of the wider picture.  

Figures also reveal that despite Brexit and other political uncertainty, VC investment into British startup businesses remains stronger than ever; there has been a 37% leap – from £3.2bn in 2018 to £4.4bn in 2019.

While this level of investment and growth isn’t limited to the tech sector, research supported by both Tech crunch and dealroom.co.uk found that UK-based tech firms received a colossal $6.7 billion in funding between January and July last year. 55% of this translates to $3.7 billion and came predominantly from American and Asian investors by way of billion-dollar tech companies; OVO energy for example and food delivery giant, Deliveroo.

An aerial view of Birmingham city centre, the hive of Birmingham's tech scene

Birmingham’s tech scene: moving out of London

Up until recently, these disruptive tech companies have predominantly been borne from and tied to the capital. Not so now. Thanks to innovation from business and an increase in talent, these startups have expanded their vision across the UK. They have looked to the horizon and are seeking to make their mark across the global market from places other than London.  

This has been made possible by the ambition of several key UK cities. Over the last 10 years, these locations have created smart hubs to foster innovation and provide support for disruptive businesses.

Leading this new wave of smart cities is Birmingham.  

Greater Birmingham has a fintech cluster that has seen significant growth. Fintech companies have grown in number to reach over 2,145. This is a 20% increase; a growth rate that has made it the largest cluster of any UK city outside London and fantastic news for Birmingham’s tech scene! 

Startup companies are not the only business, professional and financial services (BPFS) organisations heading for the Midlands. HSBC, KPMG, Deutsche Bank and PwC have also chosen to expand their presence in the region, underlining the city’s emergence as a global hub. They are not alone. Growing numbers of fintech businesses are relocating to Birmingham to capitalise on demand from the city’s burgeoning BPFS sector.

Indeed, Birmingham is home to 13,135 BPFS firms, more than any other UK city outside London. The sector generates £13.2 billion per year and is creating more than just a ripple across the digital industry.

So what is it that makes Birmingham such a hotspot?  

One of the things that contributes to Birmingham’s tech scene is that the region has a technically skilled talent pool. Greater Birmingham houses the largest and fastest-growing developer population of all UK regional cities.

Perhaps these devs are enticed by the fact that several big-hitting corporates have taken the initiative to create accelerators in Birmingham. HSBC, KPMG and NatWest for example, have all set up accelerators. Collectively known as Innovation Birmingham, these companies are working to attract some of the most disruptive fintech companies to the region.

Part of the Bruntwood SciTech network, Innovation Birmingham is the region’s leading digital tech campus. It can accommodate more than 170 disruptive companies employing over 1000 people including fintech specialists Barclays Eagle Labs, Synapse, Forensic Pathways, SC Advisors and Shopper.com. 

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A closer look at Birmingham’s tech scene

Barclays is one of the latest to join. Through its Eagle Labs accelerator, the banking giant is striving to drive innovation and open up opportunities for qualifying start-up and early-stage digital and tech companies with high growth potential. 

Natwest too has opened its doors to its in-house Accelerator programme. It aims to offer a fully-funded support programme for UK scaleups and high growth businesses. In total, the bank intends to support over 1600 businesses across 2020. To date, it has supported over 15,000 entrepreneurs through the programme and created more than 1,300 jobs. It has contributed more than £103million to the UK economy with nearly half of its supported enterprises being led by females.

Gordon Merrylees, MD Entrepreneurship at NatWest commented that; 

“We want to give all businesses the best possible chance of success and welcome applications from business people and entrepreneurs looking to thrive in a supportive environment. I’m really excited to see another diverse, disruptive intake joining us for 2020 and beyond”.

Well placed to comment on Birmigham’s tech scene is Birmingham Tech Week Founder, Yiannis Maos.  

“Birmingham has the potential to be a world-leading ‘tech city’. Birmingham Tech Week is therefore about showcasing the region’s cutting-edge capabilities, attracting investment and converting our existing talent into the leaders of tomorrow through invaluable networking and collaboration”. He went on to say that Birmingham Tech Week will be a further “catalyst for change”. It will work to reinforce the message that this is a “passionate region on the rise” and one that “marks only the beginning of a fantastic growth journey for regional tech”.

Birmingham Tech Week is due to run from October 12th – 18th later this year.

If you’re interested in how we can help with providing leading talent for FinTech companies then get in contact!

About the author: As Client Relationship Director, I am responsible for helping grow the new and existing client base of Ignite Digital. I work as a “trusted connection” with my clients and candidates aiming to deliver the best service I can to connect talent to opportunity.

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