The Black Country, once the centre of the Industrial Revolution, has seen a decline over the years in terms of active innovation, economic growth, and wealth creation, giving rise to a cultural mindset not sufficiently open to embracing change, when compared to the rest of the UK.

The potential opportunities that Very Light Rail (VLR) brings to businesses in the Black Country could see a significant improvement on the current economic picture. However, with VLR being a new and emerging industry, the cultural mindset must be challenged, to enable businesses to be more responsive to change and to become part of a much bigger movement which will bring significant opportunities into the area.

BCIMO is developing an exciting programme of business support activities to help prepare a pipeline of innovation ready businesses to take advantage of opportunities such as VLR as and when they arise.

Phil Calcutt

Phil Calcutt

Strand 1 – Vision-led Innovation Accelerator

BCIMO piloted a 3-month P2P innovation forum for local business leaders to discuss current challenges and to explore new approaches to innovation and to challenge the mindsets so to create businesses that are responsive to change and that welcome and pursue disruptive ideas and transformational initiatives.

The pilot project included some fantastic leaders from the area, including Martin Dudley (Thomas Dudley), Julian Turner (Westfield), Phil Calcult (A&M EDM) and Terry Monkton (SimWorx).

Terry Monkton

Terry Monkton

Following on from the success of the pilot programme, BCIMO is now looking to develop a new and inspiring VISION-LED INNOVATION ACCELERATOR.

The programme is looking to recruit a cohort of early adopters and will start by providing them a future vision of their industries followed by a programme of thought-provoking sessions which will deliver creativity, tools, techniques and coaching and mentoring support to the business leaders to focus their input and time, minimise risk and identify the key project areas which will help drive the step change needed to make the vision a reality.

Strand 2 – The SME Innovation Support Programme

The SME Innovation Support Programme provides 12hrs of free bespoke support to companies looking to innovate. Support is tailored to the needs of the businesses and where specific capabilities are required; we have a network of Expert Practitioners to call on.

To date, we have assisted businesses to prepare Innovation Roadmaps and Capability Mapping for new sectors such as Rail, Light Rail and Very Light Rail (VLR). We can now announce that we can now deliver Digital Process Improvement Mapping and Industrial Digital Automation Mapping. Our capabilities continue to grow through our hub and spoke business model and therefore we strongly advise you to sign up to receive regular updates!

Strand 3 – Embedding Innovation in Skills

BCIMO is working closely with the Black Country & Marches Institute of Technology (IoT) to launch a pilot programme which will provide Engineering and Civil Engineering apprentices the opportunity to engage in a variety of learner experiences at the new Very Light Rail National Innovation Centre (VLRNIC). The aim is to embed innovative thinking and practices into the workforces of the future.

BCIMO is working hard to develop further initiatives, including the creation of a Black Country VLR Supply Chain and a Start-up Accelerator Programme.

If you are interested in any of our initiatives, please contact Naomi.Arblaster@gmail.co.uk to find out more.