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Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education (BCRRE) has been named as one of the Midlands most innovative businesses as part of ‘Innovation 50’. Its recent launch of HydroFLEX, the UK’s first hydrogen-powered train was cited as an example of innovation in the sector with the potential to make the world a better, greener place.

A report ranking 50 of the Midlands’ most innovative businesses has been published today by Midlands law firm Mills & Reeve as part of its biennial “Innovation 50” – a campaign that celebrates the region’s R&D royalty, industry groundbreakers and rising stars.

The report, compiled by Mills & Reeve, highlights innovative success stories from across the region and features 50 businesses across five categories: Business intelligence and performance; Communication; Development and inclusivity; Healthier, safer lives and Place and environment.

Alex Burrows, Director, BCRRE said: “We are thrilled to be ranked as one of the 50 most innovative organisations in the Midlands and to be recognised in this way in the Innovation 50.  Over the past year we have launched HydroFLEX, the UK’s first hydrogen train; acquired Rail Alliance, a Midlands-based enterprise company for rail SMEs with over 550 members; and launched DIGI-RAIL, a Midlands SME support programme. With ever-increasing demands and expectations on the rail sector, innovation will be vital if we are to seize new opportunities and to progress in the future.”

In addition to BCRRE being listed, the University of Birmingham and its partnership with Renishaw also features for its development of the next generation of personalised medical implants.

A select group of business leaders from across the East and West Midlands were part of the expert panel that selected the final 50 from this year’s applications, which this year saw a 10% increase in entries compared to the inaugural campaign in 2017. The panel judged entrants on both their originality and impact, with the 50 highest-scoring businesses securing their place in the report. 

Steve Allen, Head of the Birmingham office at Mills & Reeve, said: “Innovation is at the heart of what we do at Mills & Reeve. From pushing boundaries in our own products and services – earning us a place in the 2019 FT Innovative Lawyers Top 50 and wins at the Legal Week Innovation Awards – to celebrating those that are making waves in their markets, we’re on a mission to encourage and recognise forward-thinking business activity that solves problems.

 “We launched the Innovation 50 in 2017 to celebrate Midlands businesses at their most enterprising, confident and creative. Two years on, and the buzz around the region has only grown – with the quality of 2019 entries showing that we more than live up to our national reputation. From social enterprise to telecoms and business support to agritech, the 2019 Innovation 50 is leading the way with fresh ideas and standout execution. We’re proud to launch the latest report, and look forward to seeing the journeys that these businesses take in the coming years.”

The 2019 Innovation 50 applicants were judged by an expert panel including:

  • Paul Bassi CBE, CEO REI PLC
  • Anita Bhalla OBE, Chair, Performances Birmingham
  • Victoria Copestake, Business Development Manager, Enterprise Loans
  • Andrew Dawson, Director and Co-Founder, Curium Solutions
  • Paul Faulkner, Chief Executive, Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce
  • James Fry, Partner and Head of Life Sciences, Mills & Reeve
  • Susan Hallam MBE, Founder and CEO, Hallam Internet
  • Mark Hipwell, Pre-Construction Manager, HS2, and GBCC Future Faces President
  • Kath Preston, Enterprise Consultant, Aston University
  • David Varnham, Parker, Banking and Finance, Mills & Reeve
  • Keith Webb, Deputy Regional Manager, Corporate Banking – Midlands Region, HSBC UK
  • Tracy Westall, Executive Chair, Curium Solutions

View the full 2019 Innovation 50 and to follow and share the campaign on social media @innovation_50 #MRInno50.