Annual Review 2014

Sharing our expertise to promote growth Birmingham City University is providing knowledge-driven innovation to support the region’s global leadership in applied creativity.

Our dedication to supporting the city as a hotbed of innovation and ideas stretches back as far as 1843. Over the past 170 years we have continued to improve the prospects of the city and its people by providing highly-skilled graduates, working with employers and carrying out ground-breaking research.

The University is undertaking a £260 million investment programme, including our agship Parkside Building at the City Centre Campus in Eastside, which opened in September 2013. Further phases of development will follow in 2015 and 2017.

The University contributes around £180 million to Birmingham’s gross domestic product (GDP) each year and supports almost 5,000 jobs in the city (source: Ecotec).

About the Lunar Society

The Lunar Society, founded by some of the 18th century’s finest thinkers, was re-founded more than 20 years ago to encourage debate around all aspects of the development of Birmingham, the West Midlands and beyond. The Society does not itself take positions, but provides a forum for stimulating ideas and broadening debate on issues critical to the future of the city and the region, inspiring its members to influence change.

The topics it tackles include a wide range of subjects from science, medicine, the environment to technology, manufacturing, economics and the social sciences. It is non-party political, and past keynote speakers have included Sir Mervyn King, Vince Cable, Ed Milliband and Michael Heseltine.

Future events for 2014

The Lunar Society Heritage Trail – Children and Family event

Saturday 6th September | All day Soho House

Science and technology – ‘Blood in the Wire’

Thursday 11th September | 4:30pm University of Birmingham, Lecture Theatre

Boulton and Watt Commemoration Lecture:

Tuesday 28th October | 6.30pm University of Aston, Sumpter Lecture Hall Guest Speaker: Professor George Feiger, Executive Dean Aston Business School

The Lunar Society Annual Dinner:

Friday 7th November | 7pm
Edgbaston Cricket Ground, Banqueting Suite

Guest Speaker: The Rt Hon Dominic Grieve, QC, MP The Attorney General

For more information or to book an event please visit our website:

If you would like to know more about the Society and becoming a member please contact:

Chairman’s introduction

This is my first Annual Report and it gives me great pleasure to present the work we have undertaken over the last year.

We have had a very busy programme, organising events with di erent formats covering a range of topics. I am pleased that we continue to attract high profile national speakers as well as key individuals and thinkers locally. I have been keen on ensuring our events produce written reports that are used to influence policy and key decision makers. We have exciting plans for our programme of events over the next year that will make a considerable impact in Birmingham and further field.

We have been working on increasing the profile of the Society and attracting new members that reflect the diversity of the City and the region. Although we have made a start, we still have a long way to go. Over the next 12 months we will prioritise increasing our membership and ensuring we attract young people and people from diverse backgrounds.

During the year, the Executive Committee agreed to review the administrative support provided to the Society, in light of the need to cut costs and improve the e ectiveness of the public relations and development of the Society. We invited a number of companies to submit proposals to provide a full service to the Society including administration, events management, Society development, press and public relations. I am pleased to announce that we appointed Birmingham-based Clarke Associates and we look forward to working with them in the future. I would like to place on record our thanks to Dipali Chandra, our Secretary who has done an excellent job for the Society. In appreciation of her service to the Society, the Executive Committee conferred a two year honorary membership to Dipali.

I would also like to thank Boilerhouse Media who have been filming some of our key events and publishing articles on their media platform, Information Daily, on a pro- bono basis.

We are continuing to work through the application to become a charity, although this has been a lot slower than anticipated. We hope to conclude this very shortly.
We are very grateful to the Barrow Cadbury Trust, who have supported the Society with an administrative grant of £3,000 per year for three years. This coming year is the final year of the grant and we have been fortune that over the last few years we have been able to show a surplus because of the grant against a backdrop in the reduction of member numbers and a continuing challenging financial background. Therefore

it is imperative we increase our members and attract more sponsorship income for our events in order to continue to undertake the excellent work we do in the City. The Treasurer has set this out in his report and budget.

I would like to place on record my thanks to our sponsors, partners and supporters over the last year including KPMG, Midland Heart, Birmingham Museum Trust, Localise WM, Nishkam Centre, Millennium Point Trust, Birmingham City Council, Birmingham City University, Birmingham Metropolitan College, Mills and Reeve, Redcli e Catering, Squires Sanders, Birmingham Cathedral and Paycare.

Finally I would like to thank the Executive Committee for the support they have provided, some of the members will be stepping down after their term of o ce have been completed.

Waheed Saleem


Programme of events

When I took over the Chairmanship of the Society I set out my key themes and issues I wanted to the Society to consider over my two-year tenure of o ce.

My overarching theme was ‘Poverty and Social Exclusion’.

I am pleased that we have organised a number of events that consider key areas under this theme and that Matthew Taylor, Chief Executive of the RSA, helpfully started our thinking at last year’s Annual Dinner when he talked about ‘Enlightenment in the 21st Century, setting out how Birmingham can develop the concepts of freedom, fairness and progress. If you were not at the Dinner, I would commend you to listen to his lecture on Youtube, a link to which can be found from our website.

We were pleased that the Bishop of Birmingham The Right Reverent David Urquhart, delivered a lunchtime lecture at the Cathedral covering the topics of poverty, payday loans and social exclusion.

The theme continued with a panel discussion on the ‘Future funding of social care’ with Tom Wright, the Chief Executive of Age UK and Peter Hay Strategic Director for People, Birmingham City Council. The discussion set out the current challenges of significant cuts, an ageing population and a broken system. The panel set out the need to innovate, develop integrated service delivery across health and social care and redefine the funding packages.

“ We have been working on increasing the profile of the Society and attracting new members that reflect the diversity of the City and the region. ”

Our housing discussion in partnership with Midland Heart in April, with Lord Richard Best, brought together key individuals from across sectors to look at practical solutions that can be developed to tackle the crisis of housing. The position paper from this discussion was sent to the Lyons Commission on Housing and to other policy makers.

Our fourth event under the strategic theme was on Food and our Future in the West Midlands. The event was organised in partnership with Localise West Midlands
and Birmingham Leadership Foundation and was held at the Nishkam Centre, Handsworth. Under the chairmanship of Kate Cooper, we heard from Chris Mould, Executive Chairman Trussell Trust, Dr Adrian Phillips, Birmingham Director of Public Health, and Professor Liz Dowler, Warwick University. We had a lively audience with people from a range of backgrounds debating the issues of food poverty and the potential solutions for the West Midlands. A write up of the discussion has been published on our website.

The Boulton and Watt Commemoration Lecture was delivered by Lord Drayson on “Racing to Save the Planet: How a revolution in motor sport will electrify our future environment”. The audience heard about the development of electric technology in motor sport that has led to the building of the first all-electric Formula 1 car and how this can be adopted to power mass production cars. Lord Dryson set out the infrastructure changes required in cities to make electric cars the norm. He will be organising the first all-electric city Formula 1 race in the near future.

This year’s Annual Lecture was delivered by Professor David MacKay, Department of Energy and Climate Change Chief Scientific Advisor, who talked about Sustainable Energy from Academia to Whitehall. Prof MacKay explained how energy consumption can be simply measured in kilowatt hours per day (kWh/d) and demonstrated the 2050 Calculator, a user friendly tool allowing people to create a low carbon future and seeing the impact of their choices using scientific data.

A few years ago we organised a Charity
Ball in aid of the Queen Elizabeth Charity.
I am pleased that with the e orts from Alan Wenban-Smith we organised a very successful Charity Concert with the nationally renowned Kings Men Choir, Cambridge in the magnificent surroundings of St Philip’s Cathedral to raise money for Ammalife, a small charity working across the globe to improve women’s health.
The Chairman presented a cheque for
£700 to the Charity.