Birmingham - the original design city goes back to the
Birmingham 1760- 1800 - the original innovators
A group of industrialists, academics and intellectuals
known as the 'Lunar Men' helped inspire the Industrial Revolution
in Birmingham, which was built on the pillars of innovation, design
and creativity. This group - which included Matthew Boulton, James
Erasmus Darwin, Joseph Priestley,
Josiah Wedgwood and William Murdock - are now recognised as the
original think-tank for the Industrial Revolution.
The notion of combining art with manufacture is therefore deeply
rooted in the city. For example, the modern Birmingham City
University is strongly rooted with this legacy and traces part of
its own heritage to 1843, when the Royal Birmingham Society of
founded the Birmingham Government School of Design. This centre of
excellence aimed to match the commercial needs of industrialists
with the desire to design aesthetically desirable products - a
philosophy that was beautifully articulated by the globally
influential Arts and Crafts movement.
Design guru and aesthete Alasdhair Willis fully recognises this
heritage and called Birmingham "the Original Design
Birmingham 2011 - new kids on the block
Carrying the torch in the 21st Century is a
newly formed 'think and do' tank called IDEA
Birmingham, which has been set up to focus on fully
exploiting the region's innovation and design capabilities to give
local businesses a competitive advantage.
Led by Birmingham City University, this ambitious action group
includes representatives from Jaguar Land Rover, Aga Rangemaster,
Morgan Motor Company, Glenn Howells Architects, Birmingham City
Council, drawing on its dialogue with Will Hutton's Big Innovation
Centre as well as support from regional universities and local
creative and productive industries.
Desiring to see Birmingham take the full credit it is due, this
influential group of "think and do" stakeholders will forge
stronger links between business and civic leaders with top
academics and policy advisors to focus on applying the best in
design to boost regional growth.
Beverley Nielsen, Director of Employer Engagement at Birmingham
City University, who is behind the initiative, said:
"Innovation, design and
creativity is at the heart of our offer to
business in a bid to give them competitive advantage. These pillars
ensure Birmingham City University is unique in the region - and
provides a model for regional development.
"Innovation is delivered though the application
of new ideas and cutting edge technology, such as converting algae
into a sustainable bio fuel - a project being developed by
colleagues in the University's environmental technology team.
Innovative thinking can be found across Birmingham City
University's provision, whether it's the social sciences,
education, health, musical composition or business leadership.
"Design is just as crucial in developing must
have-products and services that will stand out in fiercely
competitive markets. Look at local success story Jaguar
Land Rover - one of the internationally acclaimed
companies we are working with. Its global success has been based on
innovative thinking which has included bold design principles - but
design is more than an aesthetic. Applying good design to improving
support systems, services and processes can also make a big
difference to businesses needing to be ever more effective and
"Creativity - this refers to the University's
strengths in areas such as branding, communications, digital media
where understanding what people in the real world actually want is
essential. For example, our students collaborate with UBM Live and
Global Color to showcase trends in the interior design industry
every year to buyers from around the world.
"By bringing these elements together we can provide holistic
solutions to modern businesses focussed on making the greatest
To contact Beverley Nielsen, Director of
Employer Engagement at the University, call 07791 301325 or 0121