Friday 24 September 2021

Walking through Paradise to see bright things happen

These sunny days in September have been a welcome bonus. As I step off my train at New Street, Birmingham heading up the escalator into Grand Central, I walk past the ebb and flow of early morning commuters and find myself on Stephenson Street with the sun lighting up the buildings. From here there are probably 2 or 3 routes to get to Centenary Square but I have stuck with walking past the coffee shops (not a coincidence) and walking through the new Paradise Birmingham development.

From here, as you walk through Paradise you can start to see the Library of Birmingham appear, also the Birmingham Rep, The Hyatt Regency and across the road The Exchange comes into view, nestled between the HSBC UK building to the side and HMRC building at the back. There are many other ways to get here of course (other nearby stations are available) but this has been my preferred choice from the cross city line past University station.

Inside The Exchange, there are some exciting things happening. Last week, 30+ University of Birmingham start-up businesses moved into The Graham Turner Entrepreneurship Centre - meeting each other for the first time and getting used to the fantastic development of their new office space next to the redeveloped Fellows Cafe. With all its rich history this is now a modern working space which is able to accommodate a diverse eco-system of start-up talent and collaboration. The building itself is full of hidden gems on different floors, with meeting spaces inside and outside the building. Look out for the crested UoB glass panels above the old banking hall ceiling, the working lounge overlooking the courtyard space filled with benches and the many teaching rooms, hideaways and views across the city centre landscape.

Of the 30+ businesses working here there is a real blend of different ideas, some have been been inspired during our recent lockdowns, others are more established with a customer base and in some cases global connections of staff or customers (or both). Each have their own unique beginning and now through UoB Elevate all businesses will be creating something special together in the same space and beyond.

So who are the businesses working here I hear you ask? Well, let me share this with you now and invite you to learn more through their business pages.  

A guide to business at The Exchange

John Sewell has created an online marketplace called Cosimo Art which brings together artists and buyers who can buy and sell art without being charged commission.

Smartella is a start-up co-founded by UoB graduate Amir Shurrab and offers education software and learning infrastructure for international clients and trainers. Ash & Even UK Ltd also has international appeal with a university application guide available to customers in China looking to find university courses in the UK.

This start-up cohort has a rich list of eSports and gaming start-ups which include; Hello Gamer - an online gamer app created by Gemini Joshi which helps female gamers to connect; Legacy Games a game production company who are currently producing their first game with a medieval twist - founded by Tayyab Hussain; and Team Norse Thunder -  a start-up which uses gaming to combat social isolation. David Pettifer from Drags 2 Riches is looking for investment to develop a table top game designed for LGBTQ+ gamers and Molly Reilly has set up a modern day croquet events business called Kroquet Corner.

Legal Lorikeet was founded by Hung Nguyen and aims to help the legal sector by combining traditional law with technology to simplify legal processes.

Media and Performing Arts
XPG Media are a multimedia company who have their own in-house video production team.
Similarly, UK Rush Productions offer video services to International clients and have worked with brands such as Huawei.

Mythos Media Productions founder Wilf Nelson produces a neuroscience podcast called The Watercooler. Trash Writing is a news agency which offers an alternative commentary of current affairs and promotes local Birmingham artists. Windswept Workshops founders Gaby Songui and Erin Gilbey provide storytelling workshops with theatre, circus skills and puppetry. They have received £25,000 of investment to date.

Retailers and Experiences
One of the longest established business of this cohort is Daniel Bridgewater who graduated from the University of Birmingham in 2013. His subscription service Buckt offers bucket list style events for thrill-seekers. Destination Dog is an online pet grooming business created by three siblings (Hannah, Naomi and Matthew Osei). 

Clothing companies En Klothe and Dream Vintage sell products online. Navdeep Kular, founder of En Klothe is a Biomedical student who creates bespoke clothing designs and Max Murray from Dream Vintage sells 90s and 00s fashion through Depop. 

Chinwendu Ogboh has created a luxury bag design for her start-up Seraphim London and Eniola Odurinde has created a niche online retail business for rare plants called RaroidMotiiv is an app based business which brings people together through shared interests and local events. From hobby to business - Lauren Hosannah has turned a passion into profit by creating The Lash Surgery which offers clients eye care.

Start-up business SWARM AI, created by Joe Maliszewski is currently developing a working model of swarm robots which can be used to carry out large construction tasks using robot technology. Scientific technology transfer business Narwhal Innovations helps start-up businesses connect between the UK and China. Maze is a digital self-service platform created by Sarah Nantume and Juliet Edjere which provides support for customer relocating.

Wellbeing and Changing behaviours
Bloomwise, created by Frankie Lewns and Paris Lalousis, is a consultancy with a clear goal to address mental health in the workplace. Ten Streets is a fashion business with a quest for fair-trade fashion and a shift in behaviours towards underdeveloped countries. 

Ten Streets, created by UoB graduate Langa Bird, officially launches in October 2021. Eczema Doc was founded by three UoB medical students; Haroon Ahmad, Noreen Akram and Niall Jawad and their app platform helps eczema patients. Harriet Noy has created a low carbon shopping app called Hazaar which encourages university students to recycle unwanted clothing through its online marketplace. Our Tied Camel is an interactive faith based advice platform which helps young professionals in the muslim community.

So, exciting things are going on at The Exchange. It will be fascinating to see how these businesses develop, work with each other and grow as a cohort. If you are in the city centre, and would like to see the new space at The Exchange then it is well worth a visit.

If you would like to get in touch to learn more, you can email the B-Enterprising Team at

We welcome future applications to join UoB Elevate at The Exchange.


Written by Bob Lee
Careers Network, University of Birmingham


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