The University of Birmingham has signed a memorandum of understanding with TechWM – organiser of the ongoing Birmingham Tech Week – which commits to addressing the West Midlands digital skills gap.

The university, hosting the festival’s Digital Skills Symposium at Exchange for the third year running, will see Birmingham Digital Futures – an initiative that the uni co-founded with PwC and Tech She Can in 2021 – become a founding patron of TechWM and the latter become a strategic partner of BDF. 

“Formalising our partnership with Tech WM is an enormously positive move that echoes the collaborative ethos at the heart of BDF,” said Victoria Pargetter-Garner, who leads the BDF Innovation District for the University of Birmingham.

“We are particularly excited about the new opportunities this alliance will offer as they are undoubtedly the driving force behind our region’s expanding tech community.”

Earlier in the week, representatives from Birmingham Digital Futures and TechWM, as well as young graduates of digital skills development programmes, participated in a ministerial roundtable with Paul Scully MP, Minister for Tech and the Digital Economy. 

The roundtable explored the role of public-private partnership models, highlighting how BDF is catalysing collaboration between academic, industry and government to help shape digital talent and the future of work in the West Midlands.

Martin Ward, West Midlands Tech Commissioner, said: “This MoU is hugely significant for TechWM as it strives to build a world-class ecosystem that will boost our region’s digital capabilities and enable us to reap the associated economic benefits. 

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“Effective collaboration is a central tenet of this effort and I’m delighted to see TechWM partner with the University and Birmingham Digital Futures to unite towards the common goal of driving digital excellence across the West Midlands.”

Looking ahead, BDF will lead on TechWM’s digital skills working group and TechWM will continue to play a key role in BDF’s work as a strategic partner, combining their existing credentials in developing innovative skills initiatives to amplify their shared commitment to the region.

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Yiannis Maos MBE, TechWM CEO, said: “As we embrace the future, it’s imperative that we address the pressing digital skills gap in the West Midlands. This partnership with Birmingham Digital Futures represents a pivotal step towards equipping our region with the talent and expertise needed to thrive.

“Together, we will empower our workforce, drive innovation, and secure a prosperous future for our businesses and communities.” 

As part of the MoU, the University will continue to host Birmingham Tech Week’s Digital Skills Symposium – a one-day event at the largest regional tech festival in the country – that brings together those responsible for developing, recruiting and retaining digital talent in the region together to address the digital skills gap. 

On the agreement, the University of Birmingham’s Provost and Vice-Principal, Professor Stephen Jarvis, said: “We are pleased to sign this MOU with Tech WM, which reflects our civic commitment to the city to support education and skills for the benefit of improving the lives of people in the city and the region’s economic growth.”

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