Birmingham has taken the fight to London has the city bids to attract thousands of tech jobs away from the capital.
Business Birmingham, the city’s official inward investment programme, believes it can itself attract more than 10,000 new tech jobs by 2020 as the digital boom spreads from London to the regions.
The body has vowed to be a “tenacious competitor to London” for tech investment and has today taken over Old Street Tube Station with a high-impact advertising campaign, designed to grab the attention of digital entrepreneurs.
The city has put together investment support packages specifically targeting digital enterprises that have started life in London, but need a cost effective location with an established digital community in which to grow.
Neil Rami, chief executive of Marketing Birmingham, said: “There’s no reason why Tech City should suck in all the attention and investment from government. If Britain wants to compete in the global tech economy, we must unleash the power of regional cities like Birmingham.
“Tech firms that want to grow quickly are increasingly looking to Birmingham’s offer. The city has a huge, established and exciting digital community and a wealth of talented, young coders and entrepreneurs. It’s a short journey from London on the train, and on cost it wins hands down.”
Birmingham believes it is perfectly placed to capitalise on constraints to growth in London that include a squeeze on office space and cost pressures.
Tech City entrepreneurs have complained they lack access to the most basic infrastructure like high speed broadband.
Talent is another issue, with almost half of London digital firms complaining that a talent shortage is inhibiting their growth, according to recent figures from independent group Tech London Advocates.
Birmingham has tailored a package for tech firms offering opportunities like the City Centre Enterprise Zone, offering business rates relief, access to high speed broadband, and simplified planning.
The Greater Birmingham region is already home to 6,000 tech firms employing nearly 40,000 people. Tech firms boost the region’s economy by more than £1.6 billion every year.
Marketing Birmingham’s tech campaign will run in and around Shoreditch and Old Street, in the heart of Tech City. It marks the beginning of two months of campaigning spanning outdoor, online
Greater Birmingham is already home to more than a fifth of the UK gaming sector and the city is well on the way to becoming the UK’s leading e-commerce hub.
Nick Craig, studio head of Codemasters Birmingham, said: “Birmingham has an outstanding pedigree in gaming, stretching back over 25 years. There’s an incredibly vibrant and fast-growing digital cluster in the city. We knew there was the skills-base, infrastructure and space to support our plans, without breaking the budget.”
Pete Marsden, chief information officer at ASOS, which has opened an office in the city, said: “It is clear that Birmingham is on the cusp of something big, we wanted to get in there first”