A few months ago, Ember Television’s Sam Lewis put forward a strong case for enterprises of all kinds to talk more for the benefit of everyone in Digbeth:
Everyone knows the value of networking in business. With the sheer number of start-ups and small businesses in Digbeth, particularly in the creative sector, why isn’t the potential for collaboration and exchange being fully realised?
A quick survey of the Custard Factory directory suggests that there are around 177 organisations based there alone. These span many sectors, from charities to creative agencies, IT companies to market research viewing suites. Given the number of marketing and design agencies that offer their clients social media services, the networking between local businesses is not as strong as it could be. The community of local businesses in Digbeth has potential to be a buzzing community of like-minded creatives.
It’s a point that creative communities in other cities do relatively well. In Manchester, MediaCity runs Interact, a free monthly event that has local businesses and experts sharing advice and guidance on a range of themes.
A more formal example is the Knowledge Exchange Hubs funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. The website describes these as “consortia”, which nurture the link between research and creative organisations “to generate new and exciting knowledge exchange opportunities, foster entrepreneurial talent and stimulate innovation and contribute to the development of the UK’s Creative Economy”.
The fact that a public body is investing £16m into encouraging collaboration shows how bringing together local creative expertise could have a huge impact on the region’s creative and wider economy. It would develop and attract talent as well as encourage growth for those businesses based in the area.
There are existing informal opportunities in Digbeth for organisations to connect, including meetings and events held by iSE, Digbeth Residents Association, Fazeley Social, Digbeth Dining Club and The Old Crown. These are a great start, but I believe the business community in Digbeth has more to gain from becoming more connected.
There is a plethora of talent, a strong economic case and great venues and events to come together. Of course some networks already exist, but it’s about building on these to ensure that the community of local businesses in Digbeth can really flourish.
So here’s our suggestion for an achievable new year’s resolution for everyone in Digbeth: talk more to each other, connect more with your neighbours, and recognise that by working together just that little bit more, we can all help Digbeth to become what we want it to be.
Happy New Year from Digbeth Residents Association!