Birmingham City University has started phase one of its £3.5 million STEAMhouse project. Created as an innovation center for multidisciplinary collaboration between Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Math (STEAM), the facility incorporates a maker space equipped with prototyping tools including 3D printers, digital design software, and metal/wood processing equipment.
According to Professor Julian Beer, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Birmingham City University, “Our STEAMhouse project will optimise the potential to create jobs, skills, knowledge and alliances between businesses, academics, artists and citizens like never before.”
A hub of creativity
This first stage of the STEAMhouse project focuses on construction of the building, reaching out to prospective businesses, and an experimental trial of the center’s free STEAMlab technology workshops.
Over the next three years project organisers aim to engage with 200 plus potential SMEs within the Greater Birmingham, Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GBS LEP).
Programmes run at the STEAMhouse will be catered to adding a creative flair to more traditional practices. Clayton Shaw, STEAMhouse Programme Manager, comments, “There is a growing trend recognising the value of art and the impact it can make when combined with digital technology, engineering and the sciences.”
“We look forward to working across the STEAM disciplines and connecting businesses with the University to apply this new way of working for longer term benefits across the GBSLEP region, as well as nationally and internationally.”
A £22.2 million opportunity
In phase two, the European Regional Development Fund and Arts Council England will be injecting a further £22.2 million into the project, to scale-up the center, bring in business, and launch industry supported STEAMacademy courses.
Ruth Claxton, STEAMhouse Creative Director and Eastside Projects Associate Director, comments,
“We have been able to create really fantastic production facilities within the STEAMhouse maker space.”
With a range of tools and equipment in digital, wood, metal and print, as well as a team of talented technicians who are able to offer professional advice, we are confident that we have created a fantastic new facility which will transform the way that people are able to develop products and prototype new ideas.”
Situated within the largest and most populous British city outside London, the STEAMhouse project is well-equipped for development into a national incubator for upcoming talent. Birmingham City University, according to the official release, “is the largest producer of creative professionals outside the South East of England and the UK’s most successful recruiter for art and design in China and Malaysia.”
Sole traders, start-ups and local businesses are all invited to participate in the STEAMhouse project. Access to the pilot facility is free, and there are thirty £2,500 grants available for businesses covering “materials for early stage prototyping.”
Featured image shows Birmingham City University’s STEAMhouse logo. Image via STEAMhouse