Facilitated by SuperTech, a UK body dedicated to the greater adoption of technology by professional and business services companies, an education initiative called the Connector Series has been designed to help entrepreneurs grow and access a market which in the West Midlands alone generates £28billion gross value added annually and employs more than 343,000 people.
Seven senior leaders from major financial, legal and property firms in the West Midlands are offering 42 hours of one-on-one support to growing fintech businesses in the UK and abroad.
Supported by BNP Paribas Personal Finance, Wesleyan, Bruntwood SciTech, Shoosmiths and Barclays the Connector Series first ran in 2021. The newly expanded 2022 programme will see representatives from Unity Trust Bank and Paragon joining the roster of mentors.
Dr Cristian Gherhes, founder and CEO of AI regtech start-up Lexyfi, engaged with the Connector Series in 2021, he said: “As a tech start-up, it can be difficult to engage with large corporates and get meetings with key decision makers, so the conversations facilitated by SuperTech’s Connector Series were extremely useful.
“Being able to get direct access and speak to senior management, understand their business needs better, and explore potential collaboration opportunities was incredibly valuable for us. We learned a lot from engaging with businesses through the Connector Series and ended up working with one of the businesses to test our product as part of our private beta.”
Hilary Smyth-Allen, SuperTech executive lead, said: “We’ve had excellent feedback on the first Connector Series from both the entrepreneurs and executives who took part. A key mission of SuperTech is to encourage and promote greater use of technology in traditional business and professional services firms, to help stimulate further economic growth. Encouraging open dialogue and the free exchange of ideas and support from some of our largest firms through to newly established technology businesses, that are often bringing first of its kind solutions to market, is central to that.
“It’s a testament to the incredible business community we have in the West Midlands that we are able to run a programme like this here in Birmingham. It would not be possible without the backing of the executives and entrepreneurs who have been involved and the continued support from the Greater Birmingham And Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership.”
Pam Rowland, chief operating officer at Paragon Banking Group PLC, said: “Researching, embracing, and implementing new technology solutions, is key to Paragon. It’s clear to me that being involved with the Connector Series will help us to have more mutually beneficial conversations, with technology teams that we otherwise wouldn’t get to know. SuperTech is playing an integral role in bridging the gaps between established business and professional services firms and fast-growing FinTech businesses.”
The full list of leaders taking part in the Connector Series are:
- David Stewart – group chief operating officer at Wesleyan
- Pam Rowland, chief operating officer at Paragon Banking Group
- Mark Clayton – chief operating officer at Unity Trust Bank
- Andrea Tittel – director of innovation, customer and propositions at BNP Paribas Personal Finance
- Tony Randle – partner at Shoosmiths
- Anthony Pryke – ecosystem manager at Barclays’ Eagle Labs
- Cliff Dennett – head of business development at Bruntwood SciTech