The University of Warwick has announced the launch of a new digital platform as a continuation of its efforts to drive innovation and support the development of new businesses in the Midlands.

My Innovation Collective builds upon the basis of the university’s own innovation hub, the Warwick Innovation District (WID). Since its launch in 2020, start-ups and SMEs within the WID have raised over £100m in funding, with over 20,000 people engaging in innovation and over 700 businesses started or supported.

My Innovation Collective is a not-for-profit initiative that functions on the foundation of a circular skill exchange and time-banking, between experienced industry professionals and new start-ups. The platform is supported by the WID team to ensure quality connections, with key features including the ability to search for mentors by skills and experience. Users can also access innovation programmes, accelerators and incubators to help grow their start-up or scale-up.

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The digital platform aims to support local businesses as they grapple with national and regional challenges. This includes exporting challenges, a shift in consumer buying habits post-pandemic, and the transition away from traditional combustion engines, which has long formed a core of industry in the region.

However, start-ups and ambitious SMEs in the Midlands are finding new opportunities in onshore manufacturing, as well as in the burgeoning low-carbon, health and tech sectors.

David Plumb, Chief Innovation Officer at the University of Warwick, said: “The new digital platform can catapult the growth and stability of start-ups and SMEs in Midlands. We know the first few years of operation can often be the most challenging, with many businesses hiring new staff, managing unpredictable cost bases and undertaking capital investments. Connecting with like-minded peers, sector experts and professionals at this time is crucial in moving from surviving to thriving.”

Abbi Head, PR & Design Consultant at Little PR Rock Marketing, recently used My Innovation Collective to connect with Professor Andy Pardoe at the University of Warwick, a national leader in AI and proven commercial investor. Thanks to his guidance, Abbi has been able to develop a revised PR agency model that is more robust.

Abbi said: “I’ve had a really positive experience with My Innovation Collective so far. In just two weeks I’ve been able to connect with people who I would otherwise never have the opportunity to meet, and have gained confidence as an entrepreneur as a direct result of this.

“Working with Andy has provided me with game-changing insight on business, communications and mindset, and is a shining example of reciprocity in action. The platform itself is really easy to use and has the benefit of being a trusted source. To me, it’s important to explore its capabilities in full in order to work out what I can offer back to my local economy too.”

David concluded: “My Innovation Collective is about more than just supporting new start-ups. It’s about promoting a vital sense of community between this generation’s business leaders and the next. The invaluable relationships born out of the platform will provide a base for ambitious founders, business professionals, coaches, investors and academics to collaborate and put innovation into action.

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