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Birmingham Post Power 250: Creative and Digital

The ten people listed as the most influential in the West Midlands from the world of creative and digital

Lucan Gray
Lucan Gray

Drew Roper, Yamination

Yamination, based in the Custard Factory since 2011, is an animation company set up by cartoon lover Drew Roper.

The company specialises in animated films for commercial clients, including Coca-Cola, and entertainment for Sky TV. Drew Roper runs Yamination with business partner Yossel Simpson-Little.

After winning funding from The Prince’s Trust in the early days of his business he is now a Prince’s Trust ambassador. He lives in the Jewellery Quarter.

Lucan Gray, The Custard Factory

The creative, digital and retail workspace that is the Custard Factory in Digbeth was set up by Bennie Gray in 1992 and is now owned and run by his son Lucan. The award-winning 15-acre development – formerly Victorian factories – is home to many media businesses as well as shops, galleries, restaurants, art rooms and studios - more than 400 businesses in all, employing 2,000 people.

Nick Holzherr, Whisk.com

Nick Holzherr, CEO of Whisk.com at Faraday Wharf, Birmingham
Nick Holzherr, CEO of Whisk.com at Faraday Wharf, Birmingham

Aston University graduate Nick Holzherr was a 2012 finalist in the BBC’s The Apprentice, the year after he was named Birmingham Young Professional of the Year for entrepreneurship.

He launched Lionel Street-based Whisk.com – a smart grocery shopping app – in 2013 after raising more than £1.5 million from investors. Whiskhas won several awards and has been rolled out internationally.

Brian Donnelly, Synapse

Brian Donnelly, chief executive Synapse Information
Brian Donnelly, chief executive Synapse Information

Tech entrepreneur Brian Donnelly founded business information software firm Synapse in 2012 after working in Silicon Valley for eight years with his first business, Constellar, which he sold to IBM. Cloud-based Synapse helps businesses struggling with spreadsheets to automate their business-critical operations.

Based on the Innovation Birmingham Campus, Synapse turns over more than £1.5 million.

Jonnie Turpie, MBE

Jonnie Turpie has been an active member of Birmingham’s digital sector since the city has had a digital sector. A former Advantage West Midlands Ambassador and board director, the Maverick Television director is an honourary fellow of Warwick and Birmingham City Universities. He was awarded and MBE for services to international trade in the Queen’s 2010 New Years honours List.

Mark Hales, Oxygen Accelerator

Birmingham-based Oxygen Accelerator is tech start-up accelerator which aims to invest in and support start-ups with big ideas. Mark Hales is its founder and chairman. The firm has helped more than 500 companies with investment, expert advice and mentors. Mark Hales ran the Claimar Care Group, an AIM-listed social care provider turning over £65 million a year. He exited in 2009 and set up a growth capital fund, investing in small businesses in a variety of sectors. He is executive chairman of business news web site The Business Desk.

Simon Jenner, Silicon Canal

Paul Arthur Simon Jenner
Simon Jenner

Simon Jenner co-founded not-for-profit Silicon Canal to support greater Birmingham’s technical community and technical start-ups. An entrepreneur who has a technical background, he has worked with more than 100 start-up companies. He launched Adventures in Business, a vehicle for new entrepreneurial start-ups, and Birmingham Entrepreneurs, the largest entrepreneurs group outside of London.

John Newbold, 383 Project

Birmingham’s 383 Project is a studio which aims to help brands develop digital products for their customers. It ranks The Football League, Homeserve, England Rugby and Genting among its worldwide clients. John Newbold is design director and co-founded the company with Sukhi Dehal. He is a regular speaker on brand utility and digital innovation and wrote the “Useful Brands Playbook.”

Dr David Hardman MBE, Innovation Birmingham

Dr David Hardman MBE, CEO of Innovation Birmingham
Dr David Hardman MBE, CEO of Innovation Birmingham

David Hardman is chief executive of Birmingham Science Park Aston’s Innovation Birmingham campus. Taking up the post in 2008, he has led the re-branding and development of the campus’s incubator environment, and is bringing in global support to drive Birmingham’s knowledge economy. A PhD microbiologist, he has worked to integrate Innovation Birmingham’s activities into the city’s development plans. He received an MBE in 2009 for services to science.

David Maclean, Packt Publishing

David Maclean, who runs Packt Publishing
David Maclean, who runs Packt Publishing

Packt Publishing is a leading provider of technology ebooks and coding ebooks to help IT professionals develop their software. Packt was founded in Birmingham in 2004 and has published more than 3,000 books and videos. Packt also has an office in Mumbai. David Maclean is Packt’s managing director. He was previously founder and managing director at Wrox Press.

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