Who We Are


The Birmingham Made Me Design EXPO is a project of the Birmingham City Universitythink and do’ tank, Idea Birmingham. A collaboration of manufacturing and brand-led businesses, it has been developed to promote our emerging talent, position design-driven innovation and entrepreneurial excellence at the heart of our economic growth strategy and bring this together through the authentic and great brands designed and made in Birmingham and the Midlands.

2014 – Birmingham Made Me the Original Design City – Making Our Way

Millennium Point, Birmingham Eastside

5-9 May 2014 :                   Jobs Fair, Co Creation Ideas Studios

26-31 October 2014:         Birmingham Made Me Design Expo

This year our focus is on how we are ‘Making our Way’ into more sustainable and better connected and Smarter futures.

Birmingham Made Me 2014 launches 5th – 9th May 2014 at Millennium Point.  Our focus is on how our young people and our emerging talent are ‘Making their Way’ from school into further and higher education and from university into new areas of growth and into work.

Throughout the week 5th – 9th May 2014, Millennium Point, we will hold Ideas Studios activities where young people can engage with proto-typing, designing and making.

Digital challenges: Open Data, Innovation and Makey Makey events to challenge and stimulate.

Dance Xchange International Dance Festival Birmingham launch event, 7th May, Millennium Point, featuring dance and performance in creative spaces designed by Birmingham City University students from the School of Architecture.

The Big Lottery Funded Design Expo Schools Programme Awards Celebration,  Schools Design Competition winners, 8th May, Millennium Point.

Birmingham City Council Jobs Fair, 9th May, Millennium Point, connecting schools and businesses.

Birmingham City University Speed Dating connecting Birmingham City University students and businesses, 9th May Millennium Point.

Idea Birmingham

Strategic Objectives

  • Position design-driven innovation and entrepreneurial collaboration at the heart of the region’s growth strategy and economic success.
  • Leverage the region’s existing brand capital and cultural heritage to provide a strong marketing platform enhancing regional identity, promoting existing brands and supporting emerging brands.
  • Develop, through our Idea Leaders Network, a collaborative philosophy to encourage a multidisciplinary Idea-based culture through skills and knowledge transfer to create opportunities for growth across our public and private sectors.

Mission: Design Expo and Awards

Our goals are to –

  • Establish an internationally-renowned Design Expo within the next 5 years putting Birmingham and the Midlands firmly on the map.
  • Showcase authentic, regionally-based brands and upcoming graduate and entrepreneurial talent.
  • Emphasise our business-driven and university collaborations.
  • Promote design excellence, user-focused innovation and commercially-viable, radical design visions that can be produced for sale.

More about members and sponsors

Words from Our Design and Innovation Leaders

“At Birmingham City University we place creativity and innovation at the heart of our approach to curriculum design, student development and how we work with businesses on current needs around competitiveness.”

Prof Chris O’Neil Dean // Birmingham Institute of Art & Design
// Birmingham City University

“It is my firm belief that design and manufacture could be the answer to our economic problems given the intellectual and creative capacity represented in that. These days people do not simply buy what they need, they buy what they like.”

Ian Callum // Director of Design
// Jaguar

 “Our approach is to think of design as being positively bi-polar – simultaneously thinking of the micro and the macro to reach structures that are very rich. By considering the components of any design very early we’re able to come up with organic designs where small elements can inform the larger form.”

Glenn Howells // Director
// Glenn Howells Architects

“There’s an opportunity to get to a wider audience through cultural collaborations, such as with ballet and opera – not only through the potential to promote and sell, but also by getting more people interested in designing and making things. By bringing together a serious group of people we can facilitate these activities.”

Patrick Fuller //Chairman
// Weston Beamor

 “Creating things that are more meaningful makes more sense to people. Companies that manage to do this will win sales. Technology and style do not always have to be the key differentiators for success.”

Prof Roberto Verganti
// Politecnico di Milano and Copenhagen Business School

“Understanding by a company’s senior management of the full complexity of design, how it can best be matched to company needs and most effectively integrated into development processes at all levels is imperative. Markets are ‘created’, they do not simply exist. The best way to achieve this is by embedding design into all aspects of managing corporate activities.”

Prof John Heskett // Immediate Past Chair Professor Design
// Hong Kong Polytechnic University

“We are delighted to join in creating a platform to celebrate and showcase excellence in design and innovation, promoting design-driven innovation with technology and knowledge transfer, to enhance opportunities for job and wealth creation in the Midlands.”

Dr Phil Extance // Pro Vice-Chancellor
// Aston University

Ian Callum, RDI, Founder Chairman, Idea Birmingham;Design Director, Jaguar:

Innovation and design have been at the heart of our endeavours as a region for well over 300 years. Our combined efforts have changed the day-to-day quality of life we all enjoy. Now it’s time to tell our unique story and draw on previous inspiration and design excellence to develop a distinctive platform for growth and wealth creation.

IDEA Birmingham is a vehicle for us to do this and as Design Director, Jaguar, and as our Founder Chairman, I am proud to represent one of our region’s most renowned brands. New York’s MoMA proudly exhibits the Jaguar E-Type Roadster and everyone will have come into contact with at least one or more of the many iconic brands produced here – whether it’s Acme Whistles, AGA Rangemaster cookers, Aston Martin, JCB, Land Rover, MG, the original Mini, Morgan Motor Cars, Triumph Motorcycles, Pashley cycles, Brooks England saddles or pottery, furniture, jewellery, foods or confectionery.

We continue to produce a collection of the exceptional and everyday, combining ‘beauty and usefulness’ with an ease that belies their underlying ingenuity. Today we have a vibrant community of some of the world’s most celebrated designers.

Naturally, I am proud of my own design team and our ongoing achievements as well as those of Gerry McGovern and colleagues at Land Rover. Our wealth of design talent extends to internationally renowned designers such as Marek Reichman at Aston Martin, Emma Bridgewater in The Potteries, our jewellery and craft-based designer-makers and a blossoming creative community.

 “We have a vibrant community of some of the world’s most celebrated designers.”

How we manage this talent to deliver vital wealth creation and much needed jobs is our challenge both as businesses and as a region. This is requiring new approaches to competitiveness – design-driven innovation, networked collaborations – highlighted in leading thinking from research centres and think tanks in the UK and internationally.

Since we started talking through these ideas our business leaders have voiced a strong desire for a celebration of our on-going design excellence and achievement through the proposed IDEA Birmingham Expo and Awards to form a high profile element of our IDEA Birmingham Leaders Network as this emerging competitiveness agenda gathers momentum.

More recently we have seen gathering momentum for the formation of a multi-disciplinary Innovation Hub, led by IDEA Birmingham, anchored by our universities as key players in our emerging knowledge economy, mapping and identifying the region’s competencies and specialisations to drive forward new business growth opportunities.

I hope you will join us by committing your energy, enthusiasm and some of your precious resources to our design-led agenda and vision to deliver much needed results for our City and the people of our region.