STEAMhouse is a facility for collaborative innovation with coworking, challenge and maker space. It combines STEM with Arts to create new products and services.
The GBS LEP’s Strategy for Growth has identified the need to drive the STEAM skills base of the Greater Birmingham and Solihull (GBS) city region, as well as the importance of strengthening the innovation capabilities of business and public services. The UK Innovation Survey 2013, placed the West Midlands 6th of 9 regions in terms of percentage of innovation active businesses. Furthermore, the Higher Education Funding Council for England reported that the GBS LEP area was performing below the national average in terms of SMEs involved in collaborative innovation. STEAMHouse will address these gaps by harnessing the power of the creative and cultural sectors to drive new forms of innovation - fusing learning, knowledge, practice and production across growth sectors and establishing a community of multidisciplinary thinkers.
STEAMhouse is a maker facility which provides open memberships and access for creative SMEs, policy makers, stakeholders, businesses, academics, entrepreneurs, designers, makers and others.
• Generates research co-operations
• Provides improved innovation facilities for researchers
• Establishes a production facility featuring staffed workshops
• Provides space for making
Phase 2 is a more ambitious proposition bringing the learning from Phase 1 into a large-scale innovation campus in Birmingham which will support research development, co-creation of knowledge, simulation of innovation, incubation, new learning and business
The initial start-up costs for phase 1 was £3.5 million. This was funded through ERDF, Arts Council and supported by Birmingham City University and Eastside Projects an artist led organisation.
The centre is staffed by 5 technicians and a programme manager.
Evidence of success
STEAMhouse provides the city with a brand new innovation facility in the heart of the creative quarter. Visitor numbers are growing steadily, people are attending a wide ranging programme of events from STEAMlabs to Production Space membership workshops. We already have 190 eligible registered members signed up, who have received 12 hours of support to develop new products and utilise the facilities.
Potential for learning or transfer
The STEAMhouse concept of developing a space which supports collaborative innovation by providing coworking, challenge and maker space under one roof is has potential for transfer and replication in other cities. The STEAM concept promotes the combination of the Arts with Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEAM), to create new products and service which is an emerging theme in innovation policy across the EU.
The funding model which combines the ERDF support with arts funding and also the integration and support from a university is also something which could be useful to other cities and regions.