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Birmingham looks to build its creative sector through finance access

Birmingham has established funding infrastructure to support the creative sector, according to leading industry figures.

Over 50 creative business entrepreneurs from creative and digital marketing agencies, games, television and arts businesses congregated at Birmingham’s Hippodrome on Wednesday 24 June to learn from the experts about the different options for funding business growth and expansion.

Facilitated by Caroline Norbury, CEO Creative England and lead on the Creative Industries Council Access to Finance strategy, participants joined in a debate with panellists John Handley, Chief Investment Officer, Finance Birmingham; George Feigher, Pro Vice-Chancellor, Aston Business School; Patrick Towell, Chief Executive, Golant Media Ventures, and David Roberts, Founder & CEO, Action Starter.

The general consensus from investors was that it's all about people, vision and monetisation. John Handley explained that, to get funding, budding entrepreneurs needed to be able to demonstrate “a good idea, supportable management, and something you can scale in a realistic timeframe."

With over £500 million under management at Finance Birmingham, funding and business mentoring were readily available to both early stage and scale-up businesses. The city is keen to develop the creative sector, with a special focus on games, digital, TV and software businesses.

George Feigher advocated the sort of “intelligent opportunism” he had witnessed during his working experience in San Francisco. “In San Francisco, people fail but it doesn’t matter. Here it does and we need to get beyond that."

Anita Bhalla, Chair, Creative City Partnership, was keen to join up the dots between the different funding bodies to make it simpler for businesses to understand. “There’s a lot of work to do, but it’s already happening. You can raise funding,” she said.

The evening ended on an optimistic note with networking between individual businesses and funding providers over cocktails.

The next event in the Creative Birmingham calendar is scheduled for the evening of Tuesday 30 September 2015.

By Janet Hull, Director of Marketing Strategy, the IPA.

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