Andy Street unveils tech festival ambitions

AI image of FutureFest

West Midlands Mayor Andy Street has announced a big global ‘tech’ festival plan and believes the region’s growing innovators can help it grow faster than London.

Inspired by the SXSW festivals organised in Austin, Texas, the initiative aims to showcase the region’s technological prowess on a global stage.

Birmingham’s Tech Week, already the largest regional tech event in the UK with 7,500 attendees, serves as a strong foundation.

FutureFest aims to elevate this success by adopting the SXSW formula, which includes staging events across various sectors including tech, digital, music, film, and TV.

Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “Our region was at the heart of the original Industrial Revolution, and now it is taking the lead in the next. Our Tech sector is the fastest growing in the UK, not only forming an incredibly important part of our economy but also underpinning and driving growth in practically every other sector – from manufacturing to finance.

“FutureFest will help us showcase the amazing developments that are happening here, put us in the global spotlight, highlight why this is a great place to base a Tech firm and draw in even more investment into the sector. We are also seeing fantastic growth in areas like Digital, Culture, Media and Music, which have very clear overlaps with the broader Tech sector – so we have all the ingredients to put on an incredible festival.

“We have shown, through the Commonwealth Games, that we know how to stage a major event here, and I believe FutureFest can become a massive international draw for the West Midlands – bringing in huge numbers, driving business opportunities and economic activity.

He continued: “The success we are seeing in our Tech sector is down to innovation and ambition, and I think we need to be just as ambitious about our economy. Within a decade, I want the West Midlands to overtake London in terms of growth, reclaiming our place as an economic powerhouse within the UK.

“Remember, this has always been a place of innovation. The growth we are seeing in these sectors shows it still is. By staging events like FutureFest, we can generate ideas, attract investment and supercharge our economic ambitions.”