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On Tuesday, the city appeared in the ‘Let’s Launch in…’ series by Jonathan Moules, enterprise correspondent for the Financial Times.

After referring to Birmingham’s history of start-ups, citing Matthew Boulton and James Watt’s steam engine business and the Cadbury brothers chocolate factory, Mr Moules says that the city has a new nickname, the Silicon Canal.

This, because more than 6,000 digital technology companies, including a fifth of the British computer gaming sector, are based in the Greater Birmingham area, generating £1.6bn for the local economy.

Digbeth is the ‘heart of the new media start-up community’ – one cluster being located in the Custard Factory – and property prices in the city, about a third of those in London’s Shoreditch tech hub, are described as ‘a draw’. On average, 40,000 local students graduate each year with computer science or business degrees from the city’s three universities.

Mr Moules notes that local entrepreneurs have been a key source of early-stage funding, often taking on roles as non-executive directors in ventures they back. Support has also come from Finance Birmingham, a venture capital fund owned and run by the city council, which has led equity-funding rounds for several of the fast-growing tech start-ups.

Some of these, in particular computer-games, are niche technologies and vulnerable to economic downturn, but other forms of digital technology are greatly assisting the region’s  companies which manufacture and finish essential goods. For news about its 32,000 companies and 600,000 employees see the ‘Made in the Midlands’ website.

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