First Local Stakeholder Meeting for the Interreg NW Europe Better project

The room was brimming with excitement at the launch for the Birmingham local partnership stakeholder event on 3rd October 2019 at Birmingham Council House.

There was a fantastic turn out from a variety of organisations including: Birmingham City University, the Innovation Alliance, Birmingham Public Health, Information Management Programme team, the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Team (responsible for the GBSLEP European and Structural Investment Fund Strategy) and the European Affairs Team.

After a brief presentation of the aims and objectives of BETTER, an engaging discussion ensued. What the Better project is offering the city, is an opportunity to take stock of its digital agenda, map out the project’s relevance for the city and region, identify what we can share with transnational partners and pinpoint where transnational partners’ expertise can help us to plug some of our gaps. One message was loud and clear: the project must put the citizen at the centre of any activity; community engagement is the key for any digital initiative success.

In concrete terms, if we get the policy backdrop right, which means the current ERDF strategy, the Science and Innovation Audit and the future UK Shared Prosperity Fund, BETTER offers an opportunity to contribute to:
• Better support for SMEs by connecting them with innovation and digital solutions and by providing them with a better skilled workforce.
• Better health for the city and region through improved use of big data to tackle city health challenges
• Better data management capability through platform tools to enable transformation across the public and private sector e.g. public health data
• Better air quality/transport in the city and region through improved infrastructure and enabling technologies. This could include demand led challenges through data analysis to make the lives of the city region better.

The group brainstormed ideas for the first thematic event on Physical and Virtual Infrastructure and the Development and application of new innovative products and services event which will be hosted in Birmingham in January. The results from this will be shared with the partnership soon.

Aside from these results, a number of exciting initiatives have recently taken place in Birmingham and we hope to tap into them over the course of the project, including:

As part of launching Digital Leaders Week in Birmingham the City Council, West Midlands Innovation Alliance and the West Midlands Academic Science Network co-hosted the Great City Food Digital Treasure Hunt:

The West Midlands suffers from the second highest unemployment rate in the country. Inspired by the success of DWP’s DataJam NorthEast, DataJam West Midlands was a 2-day hackathon, looking to address regional unemployment by harnessing the power of data to fully investigate the issue.