With the start of 2015 upon we have seen a wave of roundups of what was a rather special and challenging year in the city. The Birmingham Post published a comprehensive ones to watch list looking at ‘who are the men and women likely to drive any success’ in 2015.

From the worlds of business, sport, politics, education and culture there are a range of talented people reflected and billed to do big things in Birmingham in 2015. Check it out here.

2015 has been described as ‘potentially the most important in living memory for tourism and inward investment’. We believe economic investment, big business, sport, politics, education and culture play a huge role in a successful city. Great cities are also built by citizens who love them and invest in them.

Inspired by the Birmingham Post article, it got us thinking. Who are the one’s to watch in Birmingham doing a lot, with very little, who is just getting on with it? Who are the ones pushing the boundaries, with big ambitions, creating impressive things in Birmingham? So, we compiled our own Ones to Watch list too. We didn’t set detailed criteria, we wanted to highlight some of the people we feel it is worth watching in 2015 because they are doing amazing work that is always open to get involved with almost immediately. However, we know there are many we will have missed and our list was far too big for one post. Birmingham is an amazing place, with decades of work from impressive people bringing us to here. But, there is a long way to go with the inequality gap widening and our challenges huge – who do you think should be the ones to watch?

So, this is an invitation – lets crowdsource a list of people, projects and ideas to watch and get involved with in Birmingham in 2015. Post them below or tag them in on our social media so we can find lots more to look out for in 2015.




Curated by Impact Hub Birmingham team. In no particular order we kick off some of the people / projects / groups we think are worth watching and getting involved with in 2015. Help us to grow the list, as you can see we had to stop ourselves otherwise the blog would have broken the internet for length …




Amy Martin

Amy has been a creative producer in the city for many years, the fruits of much of her investment in young people in the city are also springing up all around us. What makes us particularly excited about Amy as one to watch, is each year she springs up with something new, fresh, bold and challenging us to take what we are all producing up a notch each year. This year sees her come back after having a little boy and as a BOM (Birmingham Open Media) Fellow too, we think this mix and new insights on the challenges females face means that Amy will be cooking up some pretty exciting things in 2015. Many of our team are passionate about the reinvention of childcare systems to work for people, and we have a feeling Amy will be key to lots of this thinking and doing in Birmingham too.

Get Involved: Amy always has lots of free public talks, programmes and events going on, especially at mac, Birmingham – so give her a follow on Twitter and head on down to what will certainly be a creative inspiration in 2015.

Twitter: @AmyRozelMartin

Website: http://amyrozelmartin.com


Jodi Ann Bickley

Any description we could give of the last few years Jodi Ann Bickley has had would not do them any justice, so you might want to read her gut wrenching story here for more. The thing about Jodi is she turned her story into a global movement highlight the struggles of mental health, physical health and the challenges the world puts on us. One day at a time she is gently shaking the world, through her work, her courage, and her beautiful personality. After smashing her Kickstarter campaign we expect exciting things from Jodi in 2015, she will forever to be one to watch in our hearts.

Get Involved: Jodi has 1,000,000 letters to write. Drop her a tweet and get involve. She really is just LOVELY.

Twitter: @JodiAnnBickley

Website: http://onemillionlovelyletters.com/


Becci Wright & Karl Paragreen – Street Art Brum / City of Colours

This year saw one of the most exciting street art festival in Birmingham, with 1000’s of people attending of all ages – what a lovely addition to Birmingham. What we loved most though was this creative duo gave everything they had to create their dreams – this is so inspiring to see. Brummies building the city they want to see! In 2015 we are looking forward to seeing what they get up to – did you know they work and study and just do this in their spare time? We hope 2015 sees them being able to follow their dreams of creative magic full time!

Get Involved:

Twitter: @StreetArtBrum

Website: http://www.streetartbirmingham.co.uk & http://www.cityofcolours.co.uk


Ian Northcott – Socks and Chocs

When Ian Northcott is not keeping the streets crime-free, he is using all his free time collecting socks and chocolates to give to the city’s homeless. Ian has been doing amazing work all year, using media attention from a viral video of him to draw attention to some of the cities biggest challenges, we love his quirks and commitment. He has done fantastic things in 2014 and we think his charisma and commitment to those less fortunate in the city is a reason to watch him in 2015, we think he will be doing very special things.

Get Involved: 

Help Ian collect in 2015, he will need all of our support to reach his big ambitions for 2015. They are all about a lot of people doing a little bit, we love the idea of that!

Twitter: @buskingbobby@SocksAndChocs

Website: http://socksandchocs.co.uk/


Verity Milligan

She may be one of our own team, but we met Verity in 2014 just after she had been published in the Guardian for her incredible photography of Birmingham. What sets Verity apart for us is that is not just her talents behind the lens that are inspiring, her story and struggle resonates with so many of us. Here it from her perspective here.

Get Involved: First, say hello to Verity on Twitter she truly is one of the warmest people in the world, she is also running photo walks and workshops, if you do either of those we are pretty sure the rest will look after itself.

Twitter: @Vemsteroo

Website: http://www.veritymilliganphotography.com




Karen Newman  – BOM Lab

Karen Newman is Founder / Director of BOM Lab (Birmingham Open Media). BOM Lab is a new creative space in Birmingham’s Southside district, supporting creative collaborations between artists, technologists and scientists to explore topical issues in digital culture. This year Karen climbed mountains to open BOM Lab and amazing things have been happening there this year, she and BOM Lab Fellows are ones to watch this year.

Get Involved: Just head on down to BOM Lab, they will look after you and pretty much change where you hang out!

Twitter: @Karen_New_ & @BomLab

Website: http://www.bom.org.uk


Pete Ashton – Birmingham Camera Obscura

Pete has been doing wonderful things in Birmingham, for many many years. We met Pete virtually this year and were excited by his & Jenny Duffin’s Kickstarter campaign that was 250% funded, yes 250% for a new Camera Obscura for Birmingham. We are excited to see what Pete has up his sleeve for 2015, he is a lovely open honest chap who will give his thoughts and ideas on anything, and is very easy to reach online – we love this openness. Kate & Pete will be building his new project at BOM Lab so another reason to head down there this year!

Get Involved: Pop down to Bom Lab and see what he is up to or join one of his photo walks.

Twitter: @PeteAshton & @BhamObscura

Website: http://bhamobscura.com/



There are too many lovely people involved in BeatFreeks for us to now give you one to watch, but  for the last two years have been doing some pretty special things, grown from the vision of Anisa Haghdadi. They move in 2015 with exciting collaboration, opportunities to get involved everywhere and some of the most exciting emerging talent leaping from their programmes and initiatives. We believe 2015 will be one of their most exciting years yet and actually they really truly do want you to get involved with an open door. In the youngest city in Europe, opportunities for young people, by young people are exciting and much needed.

Get Involved: First step, head to their monthly event Poetry Jam, ask for Anisa, or Amerah, or Carl or Aliyah, or just talk to anyone, your life won’t be the same again. They are advertising a job too! http://www.beatfreeks.com/opportunities/

Twitter: @Beatfreeks

Website: http://www.beatfreeks.com/


Mohammed Ali

Mohammed has been moving mountains in Birmingham and across the world for many years. A deeply thoughtful, considered, world class talent born and bred in Birmingham. His recent work on Trojan Horse with The Feast Project reminded us of his continued passion to the city, its issues, young people and art. We caught up with Mohammed this year and heard of exciting plans for Soul City Arts, an unusual suspect in the arts scene consistently creating exceptional grass roots work. Mohammed and Soul City Arts year on year continue to be ones to watch, a true gem of Birmingham and we expect fantastic things in 2015.

Get Involved: Mohammed & Soul City Arts run projects, programmes and curate events across a number of spaces and platforms. Get to one this year, it won’t disappoint.

Twitter: @AerosolAli & @soulcityarts

Website: https://www.facebook.com/aerosolarabic


Zubeda Limbada

Zubeda is tackling some of the most challenging issues we face today. A Clore Social fellow and recently set up her own organisation Connect Justice, looking at tough issues such as child sexual exploitation and extremism. Zubeda continues to be bold, ambitious and work with some of todays toughest social problems through her work. As Connect Justice goes from strength to strength we believe Zubeda and team are ones to watch in 2015!

Get Involved: 

They have been producing some very interesting reports this year, if it’s your thing get stuck in, its well worth some time.  http://www.connectjustice.org/resources.php

Twitter: @ZubedaCJustice

Website: http://www.connectjustice.org/




Lucy Lam – Sixteen Bakery

The last few years have seen an explosion in amazing independents popping up all across the city, many of them are now so well known and we think this is super exciting, because the big chains have real competition, competition that is impressive and very high quality! We think an exciting person to watch in this world in 2014 is Lucy Lam, as one half go the team which founded Saint Cafe and now Faculty Coffee Lucy already has a fair bit of business experience under her belt. Born and bred in Birmingham she is passionate about creating good business based upon quality products and super service, you only have to take one step into Faculty to feel like you’ve stepped into her front room, the welcome is so warm. 2015 sees her launch Sixteen Kitchen & Bakery as well as lots of other exciting projects we have heard about. Watch out for Lucy in 2015, we think this is exactly what Birmingham needs; enterprising people taking over empty spaces and creating welcoming homes and spaces for things to happen.

Get Involved: Walk into Faculty and have a chat with the lovely lady.

Twitter: @milkandsugaruk & @sixteenbakery

Website: http://www.facultycoffee.com


Malala Yousufzai

Are any words needed here? In the youngest city in Europe to have the youngest ever Nobel Prize laureate call this city home is just incredible for us. We may not see her walking down the street regularly, but her bold courageous bravery and continuous fight for the rights of women around the world is inspiring for us. Why do we think she is one to follow in 2015? Everyone can take something unique from her message and story, but for us we know amazing things are coming from her 2015. What is most special is she was just an ordinary citizen with a dream, an idea, a passion through struggle, tragedy and tenacity she has sparked a global movement. 2015 is the year for us to be bolder and braver than ever, so we think she is certainly as special someone to watch.

Get Involved: Check out the Malala Fund, read and watch some of her talks to remind yourself of what an incredible young woman she is.

Twitter: @MalalaFund

Website: http://www.malala.org/


PJ Ellis

Somehow alongside being a director at Bareface Media, the MD of Bukbro, sitting on the Birmingham Future Committee and being a throughly lovely chap PJ has found the time to become the CEO of LoveBrum. LoveBrum is a charity that aims to find all of the fantastic projects, causes and people who are doing great work in Birmingham and work with, promote and ultimately fund them so they can grow all that good stuff they have going on into something which can deliver even more positive impact to our city. If 2014 was the year of team building and planning then 2015 will definitely be the year of doing. Expect news, events and other great stuff to get started imminently and keep going for the rest of 2015 and beyond.

Get Involved: Information on how you can get involved with LoveBrum is coming early in 2015. If you’re interested in collaborating, becoming a member or know a local cause doing great work then get in touch with them on their website or over on their Twitter.

Twitter: @BRUMMIE_PJ & @LoveBrumUK

Website: http://lovebrum.org.uk/


David Oram & Melanie J Reid – BrumPic

We haven’t quite met the team behind BrumPic yet, but this is one of our favourite finds of 2014, and all eyes are on them this year as we are sure more amazing things are coming. Its really the simplest of ideas, that is just simply stunning. A photographic archive of memories and pictures that shows the changing face of Birmingham, daily, for everyone to see! What’s even more lovely is the vision behind it, check out their ‘About’ page for more of what we mean: http://brumpic.com/about/. Normally, these kinds of gems are hard to find, and the guys behind BrumPic are making it easy for us all to see, everyday, a reminder of where we have come from amidst all our energy going forward.

Get Involved: Follow them on social media and be wowed by all that comes your way, share any special memories you have with them too, lets keep growing this amazing resource.

Twitter: @BrumPic

Website: http://brumpic.com






Four years after Anneka Deva’s founding idea, 2014 saw the third TEDxBrum at the Library of Birmingham, we are a bit biased as to why we love them, as much of the Impact Hub Birmingham team was first born in the TEDx community, but we love the fact the big crazy exciting ideas for what could be possible is nearly a reality in 2015. Watch them this year, if you are a dreamer, doer or disrupter looking for a lively community of people who want to see you succeed or just love the snippets of inspiration TED / TEDx can bring to everyday life!

Get Involved: The team will be launching the 2014 videos this month, recruiting for this year team early this year and there is lots of TEDxBrum goodness on the YouTube channel, so check out some of the previous years talks.

Twitter: @TEDxBrum

Website: www.tedxbrum.org


Lisa Hassell & Kerry Leslie – Glug Brum 

2014 saw Lisa and Kerry build on their fabulous talents with Created in Birmingham and InkyGoodness, graphic design, illustration and other creative endeavours to also bring Glug to Birmingham. Already bring 2 world class events to the city Glug Brum is going from strength to strength. Watch these two in 2015, Glug looks like it’s set to have a fantastic year whilst their individuals achievements keep getting better and better.

Get Involved: Watch out for the next Glug Brum and take a little dip into their websites and social media accounts for stunning creativity that makes your eyes water.

Twitter: @createdinbrum@LeslieKerry@InkyGoodness & @LisaHassell

Website: http://www.createdinbirmingham.comhttp://inkygoodness.com & http://www.glugevents.com/gluegevents/glug-birmingham/


Lara Ratnaraja

Lara has worked within the cultural, digital and creative industries for over ten years, brokering partnerships and collaborations between the sectors. She runs and develops her own projects in cultural sustainability and digital collaboration and is also the Programme Curator for Hello Culture and Hello Business. We love Lara because she has been working tirelessly for years in Birmingham to foster amazing collaborations across so many different sectors and fields, she is super lovely and always warm to new ideas. Watch her in 2015 because each and every year her ideas, curation, projects and events get better and better! A true gem of the city.

Get Involved: Say hello on Twitter, she is pretty friendly! Head on over to one of her super CAKE events.

Twitter: @LaraRatnaraja & @DoCollaboration

Website: https://www.facebook.com/docollaboration


Joe Schuppler – Independent Birmingham

We met Joe earlier this year and he is fiercely passionate about Birmingham’s independent scene. All year he has been working tirelessly on Independent Birmingham, it is dedicated to unearthing the very best of Birmingham’s hidden gems and best kept secrets, touring the city in search of the unique, the intriguing and the inspiring. Shedding light on wonderful independent establishments, their stories and quirks. Helping people to rediscover the city and support local businesses. There is sheer value of having a place where you can send people when they ask the question ‘Where’s good to go in Birmingham?’

In 2015 we are pretty sure Joe will be doing pretty amazing things and will probably need all of our help for his independent revolution across Birmingham.

Get involved: Grab an IB card, visit some independents, and spread the word.

Twitter: @IndependentBham

Website: http://independent-birmingham.co.uk


Julie Higginbottom 

Always rolling her sleeves up and getting involved in Birmingham, Julia is another longstanding star of the city. She is helpfully critical and always supportive of new emerging ideas and people. Having founded Rebel Uncut and many exciting projects over the years, we think she is one to watch in 2015 as CEO of Rewired State and for her insightful thoughts on how Birmingham can continue to change, improve and progress!

Get Involved: Head over and say hello on social media, check out what Rewired State and Young Rewired State are up to as they have many exciting events to get involved in, and read her writing – it’ll get you thinking!

Twitter: @Gabysslave

Website: http://www.rewiredstate.org/who/julia-higginbottom/


Louise Byng – Illustrated Brum

Louise Byng, a freelance illustrator living and working in the West Midlands. Inspired by current affairs and philosophy, we love Louise’s zest for life. As one of the founders of Illustrated Brum she has created a blog that is a unique documentation of the creative, cultural and social goings on she encounters in order to create an illustrated guide to Birmingham life. We are excited to see another unique take on Birmingham and particularly point to a new project called ‘One Hundred Thousand Welcomes’ – “Welcomes can be big or small, warm or polite, given or received. Whether a splendid red carpet or a humble welcome matt, welcomes are the extension of an invitation to enter, connect and engage – to become a part of something”. Watch this space!

Get Involved: 

Illustrated Brum invite you to submit examples of welcomes from in and around Birmingham, either that you have experienced or that you would like to extend out to others. Brummies are a notoriously friendly bunch, but they want to connect the dots and welcome people to new spheres, igniting fresh ways of thinking about and interacting with the city. To find out more and to submit your welcomes get in touch via welcomes@illustratedbrum.co.uk or tweet using the #OHTWBrum hashtag.

Twitter: @ByngSquirrel & @IllustratedBrum

Website: http://www.louisebyng.co.uk/




John Bishop – Evolve

John was in the founding team of Evolve, championing and working on holistic approaches to child development in schools, believing deeply about the positive effects of healthy minds and bodies can have on attainment through curriculum. What do we love about John? Quietly and passionately getting on with building a sustainable inspiring organisation in Birmingham for many years, he is always a backer and supporter of new ideas and is a motivating force in the city. We think he is one to watch in 2015 for more exciting work in the arena of social impact and innovation in education.

Get Involved: 

Evolve’s projects are constantly developing, say a little hello on Twitter and learn more about their super work especially Project Hero!

Twitter: @JohnBishop713 & @Evolve_Impact

Website: http://www.evolvesi.com/about-us/team-evolve/john-bishop/


Digbeth Dining Club

Working as a freelance cameraman Jack started filming street food for the Nationwide Catering Association across the country roughly 3 years ago.  Coming back to Birmingham, he was disappointed to see a vibrant city such as Birmingham had nothing to offer.

Working alongside Spotlight, since August 2012, Digbeth Dining Club was born – Birmingham’s first regular street food event. Their philosophy was to bring the vibrancy that he had seen in other cities but add their own Brummie twist. We love Jack as he rolled his sleeves up and created a movement of street food culture in Birmingham, and like many of our list is generally a very lovely chap, you can go to him with any crazy idea and he will help make it happen with you. We think he one to watch in 2015 as he continues to throw all his energy into new ideas, bigger and better for Birmingham.

Get Involved: 

Simple, Friday night at Digbeth Dining Club, its for everyone, all ages, all diets – go with an open mind and heart. You will love it.

Twitter: @DigbethDiner & @JackeB83

Website: http://www.digbethdiningclub.co.uk/


Simon Jenner

For many years Simon has been at the heart of exciting new spaces, ideas and visions for Birmingham. From founding Urban Coffee Company, to some of the best entrepreneur meet ups in the city, he is a huge advocate for the tech scene in the city. We love Simon for his commitment to new ideas, passion for Brummies to stay in the city, and mega plans for the Oxygen Accelerator in 2015.

Get Involved: Grab a coffee at one of 5 Urban’s in the region, attend Birmingham Entrepreneurs or Silicon Canal or find out more about the Oxygen Accelerator.

Twitter: @SimonJenner, @UrbanCoffeeCo, @Silicon_Canal & @OxygenAccel

Website: http://sjenner.co.ukhttp://www.urbancoffee.co.ukhttp://siliconcanal.co.uk & http://www.oxygenaccelerator.com


Tom Cullen – I Choose Birmingham

Tom burst onto the Birmingham scene in 2014 (for us, we are pretty sure he’s been around a lot longer), and, well, we kind of love him. Not just for choosing Birmingham or his rather funny Twitter timeline, but because he is lovely, warm and has created the beautiful I Choose Birmingham a free quality editorial that arrives weekly in your inbox. Why do we like it? We all know how hard the media can be but Tom is continuously creating opportunities to highlight the cities incredible talent whilst showcasing and raising the ambition of Birmingham daily.

Get involved: Say hey to Tom on Twitter, he is rather funny. Subscribe to I Choose Birmingham (you wont be disappointed)

Twitter: @IChooseMag & @TomCullen

Website: http://ichoosebirmingham.com


Dima Saber – Birmingham City University

Dima landed in here at Birmingham City University in 2013, as a senior lecturer in media for social change after an impressive few years in Paris, Beiruit, Lebanon and more founding an inspiring space, TEDx events, teaching, researching and lecturing too. We met Dima in 2014, and were immediately captured by her bold sense of adventure, her challenging charismatic nature and a dose of energy that made us excited. She is working on so many projects in 2015 that we think she a radical spark to watch this year.

Get Involved: Dima’s energy is infectious, check out what she is up to, say hello on Twitter, arrange to have a coffee, make magic happen.

Twitter: @dimalb

Website: https://uk.linkedin.com/in/dimasaber

If you appeared on the Epic Brummies list, we will be in touch this week with some exciting news – keep up the great work! You inspire us!