The West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) Devolution Deal discussions with Government involved a number of strands, including Innovation. Birmingham Science City was asked to support and run the WMCA Innovation Group.
As an independent alliance of innovation organisations from across the West Midlands’ geography, Birmingham Science City (BSC) lead early discussions with a wide range of partners to create a WMCA innovation proposal, the Consortium for the Demonstration of Intelligent Systems (CDIS).
Firstly, BSC held a large, well-attended workshop with representatives from science parks, catapult centres, universities, local authorities, companies, NHS, LEPs and other sector membership organisations to understand the key challenges faced in the region in the core sectors of energy, mobility and health, which could be addressed using an intelligent systems approach.
According to the Royal Academy of Engineers, the definition of an intelligent system is one which uses a feedback loop of data, providing evidence for informed decision-making.
An intelligent system can monitor, measure, analyse, communicate and act based on information captured from sensors.
Follow up discussions were held with the six research active universities in the WMCA area (Aston, BCU, Birmingham, Coventry, Warwick and Wolverhampton) to understand their capabilities and strengths in intelligent systems in the core sectors of energy, health and mobility.
Once these had been understood, further consultations took place with over a dozen other organisations at the interface between research and the business/user communities.
While these were taking place, BSC was also engaging with the evolving WMCA Strategic Economic Plan, ensuring that innovation was threaded throughout the plan and with CDIS specifically mentioned as an innovation proposal.
There has been very positive engagement with BSC and the developing CDIS proposal across the WMCA area and an acknowledgement that there is a lack of co-ordination and harmonisation of existing and planned projects, along with underutilisation of new technologies which could increase new business opportunities and the effectiveness of public services.
It is proposed that the CDIS network will join up regional strengths, support transfer of intelligent solutions from one sector to another and the dissemination of existing innovations to address productivity issues to the benefit of businesses and citizens in the WMCA area. Watch this space for further developments.