How fintech accelerators are driving Innovation

A recent study by KPMG found that over £2bn of Venture Capital has been invested into UK startups over the last three months, with the bulk of funds spent on later stage deals with larger scaleup businesses. The figures also show an incredible investment into UK startups, with VC investment into the UK up 37% to £4.4bn compared to £3.2bn in 2018.

However, recent investment in UK startups in a range of industries show that appetite for UK companies remains stronger than ever, with an influx of startups emerging from regions all over the UK.

Research by Tech Nation and Dealroom.co found that between January and July of last year, UK-based tech firms received a staggering $6.7 billion in funding – with $3.7 billion, or 55%, coming from American and Asian investors thanks to billion dollar tech companies such as energy supplier OVO Energy and food delivery startup Deliveroo.

Due to the increase of talent across the nation and innovation from businesses, tech companies are no longer tied down to London. Disruptive startups born in the UK and looking to innovate in the global market have typically been associated with being located in the capital due to wider reach, networking capabilities and innovation hubs.

This has changed drastically over the last decade, with several key cities creating smart hubs to foster innovation for disruptive businesses. One of those smart cities driving innovation is Birmingham.

Greater Birmingham’s fintech cluster has seen significant growth, with a “20% increase in the number of companies, which has been  driven primarily by an increase in cyber security firms in particular. The total number of fintech companies now stands over 2,145, making it the largest cluster of any UK city outside the capital,” according to an article.

The growing numbers of fintech businesses relocating to Birmingham are also capitalising on demand from the city’s burgeoning business, professional and financial services (BPFS) sector.

The region’s technically-skilled talent is also cited as a key draw for businesses, with Greater Birmingham housing the largest and fastest growing developer population of all UK regional cities.

The article continues: “The city is emerging as a global hub, with firms such as HSBC, KPMG, PwC and Deutsche Bank expanding their presence locally. Birmingham is home to 13,135 BPFS firms, more than any other UK city outside London, with the sector generating £13.2 billion per year. This is creating an unprecedented ripple effect in the digital industry.” 

Birmingham Tech Week Founder, Yiannis Maos, commented on the tech scene: “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.

“Birmingham Tech Week will be a catalyst for change; reinforcing locally and nationally that this is a passionate region on the rise – this marks only the beginning of a fantastic growth journey for regional tech”.

A hub for accelerators

A number of high profile corporates have now taken the initiative to create accelerators in Birmingham. HSBC, KPMG and NatWest are just a few of the companies that have chosen to set up accelerators in order to attract some of the most disruptive FinTech companies from across the region.

Banking giant Barclays is one of the latest businesses to join the Innovation Birmingham campus, choosing to make it the location of its Eagle Labs accelerator. The bank’s accelerator  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 has also opened its doors to its in-house Accelerator programme that aims to offer a fully funded support programme for UK scaleups and high growth businesses. The bank aims to support over 1600 businesses throughout the programme in the following year and has to date supported over 15,000 entrepreneurs through the programme, creating nearly 1,300 jobs and contributing in excess of £103million to the UK economy – with nearly half of all businesses supported being led by females.

Gordon Merrylees, MD Entrepreneurship, NatWest, commented: “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.”

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