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Digital tech SMEs receive support

Following the success of the first #LiftYourBusiness campaign, leading Midlands-based sports fitness clothing brand Gymshark is now preparing to launch its next phase of business support for digital tech SMEs innovating in the West Midlands.

Building on its partnership with Innovation Birmingham, the UK’s largest campus for digital technology businesses, Gymshark has recently reopened the doors to its pioneering business support centre as the brand strives to connect with the region’s brightest innovators.

Hosted at Innovation Birmingham’s iCentrum building, the #LiftYourBusiness incubator drives growth and opportunity for tech SMEs through a structured programme of mentoring, providing businesses with the opportunity to access Gymshark’s global network and learn from the expertise and infrastructure of a brand that ships to over 180 countries across the world.

The #LiftYourBusiness programme sits within the Serendip Smart City Incubator at Innovation Birmingham and will be accepting applications from tech SMEs up until April 11th.

#LiftYourBusiness supported eight SMEs in the first cohort launched in August 2018, providing regular interaction with Gymshark experts and Innovation Birmingham advisors, free space, and access to the wider sports clothing industry.

Adam Harrison, head of special projects at Gymshark commented on the early successes of the programme and the highly anticipated second cohort: “We’ve been extremely encouraged by the partnership with Innovation Birmingham, and it’s enabled us to give something back to the area that we call home. High levels of interest were shown for the first programme and over the last six months we’ve highlighted why there was such competition for places.

“We’ve been working with eight digital technology businesses all operating in a variety of different sectors, from workplace wellness, clean energy and fitness testing to mobile apps and performance coaching. Bringing the region’s brightest innovators together in one place has highlighted the collaborative commercial and social relationships that this can trigger.”

Taking the global sports clothing market by storm since establishing the business in 2012, Ben Francis began Gymshark by printing t-shirts in his parents' garage, with the leading brand now operating 11 online stores across the world.

Gymshark was the fastest growing company in 2016 and now sits alongside five other commercial partners within the Serendip Smart City Incubator delivered by Innovation Birmingham, including TATA Motors, Barclays (Eagle Labs), National Express, the West Midlands Academic Health Science Network and Transport for West Midlands.

Serendip was set up in 2016 to help businesses connect with marketplaces for their innovative products and services. It forms an important element of Innovation Birmingham and its wider business support facilities and networks, which over the last decade have successfully supported more than 330 businesses, creating more than 500 jobs and raising more than £56m in equity finance.

Katharine Fuller, head of business support at Innovation Birmingham said: “In the six months that we’ve been working with Gymshark, we’ve seen first-hand how a partnership between an innovation specialist and a sector leader can result in fantastic opportunities for SMEs. This platform of support has been launched at a great time for Birmingham, especially considering global attractions like the Commonwealth Games 2022, which will present opportunities for tech SMEs to implement their innovations. 

“The #LiftYourBusiness incubator offers a great chance for entrepreneurs and small businesses to grow. We’re looking forward to welcoming the new cohort of businesses and supporting them with disrupting markets, raising investment, recruiting, growing and succeeding in the tech landscape.”

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