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The launch of the West Midlands’ first ever Open Device Lab (ODL) at the Innovation Centre at St. Modwen’s Longbridge Technology Park “demonstrates that Longbridge is an exciting place where exciting things happen”, stated the local MP when he visited the facility on Monday (2 February 2015).

Richard Burden, Labour MP for Birmingham Northfield, wanted to find out more about the Longbridge Device Lab and how it is attracting web developers and designers from across the region who want to test their websites and online applications on a library of smartphones and tablets, for free.

“The Longbridge Device Lab embodies the spirit of the development that’s taking place here at Longbridge, and it’s great to see that St. Modwen has got behind it,” he said.

“The lab not only showcases the growing community of tech businesses based here at the Innovation Centre, it is also reaching out into the community, helping local start-ups and young people who are training to become web developers and designers”

There are 17 other ODLs across the country – but until now, the West Midlands’ web designers and developers have had to travel outside the region to discover how their websites and apps perform across platforms.

The Longbridge Device Lab was established by web design agency Ballyhoo – which is itself a local start-up that began life in the home of husband and wife team, Anthony and Alison Chaffey, who moved their work to the Innovation Centre so they could grow their business.

Anthony Chaffey, managing director of Ballyhoo, said: “We decided to set up the Longbridge Device Lab when we realised that other web businesses in the West Midlands must also have been struggling to test their products on a range of different devices.

“We’re really pleased that Richard Burden took the time out to come and see what we’re doing here. He even tested out his own personal website on a few smartphones and tablets.”

James Teal, manager of St. Modwen’s Innovation Centre, said: “Richard Burden is trying to ensure that Longbridge is an aspirational area. Ballyhoo is exactly the type of business he would like to see more of.

“At the Innovation Centre, St. Modwen is doing what it can to help such businesses succeed. This is why we were proud to provide Anthony and Alison with the space they needed to launch the Longbridge Device Lab, which will bring web developers and designers from across the West Midlands to the hub we have created here.”

St. Modwen, the UK’s leading regeneration specialist, has created more than 3,700 jobs as part of the mixed use community it is developing at Longbridge.