The 13-week, full-time Oxygen Accelerator boot camp will run from 1st September 2011. Ten teams will be selected by the panel of judges (TechCrunch's Mike Butcher, Katy Turner from Eden Ventures and Springboard MD Jon Bradford are among those sifting through applications). You don't have to be based in Birmingham, but you do have to relocate there for the duration of boot camp.
Hales, an enterprise veteran, who oversaw some 30 acquisitions while boss of Claimar Care and now advises scores of start-ups and angels, decided to set up the initiative to support entrepreneurs in his hometown. His aim: To make Birmingham a major player on the start-up scene. "While I am supportive of initiatives like Tech City and Tech Hub in London, I believe that we need to create a sustainable entrepreneurial community across the UK," he explains. "As a Birmingham resident, I am keen to promote this city for its innovation, geographic location and a place of fun for work."
The Oxygen Accelerator is not dissimilar to other accelerator programmes. It will combine investment with intensive training with mentoring. But it's Hales' passion for boosting the Birmingham-based business that really shines.
"Oxygen Accelerator will be the start of a great new wave of entrepreneurs drawn to Birmingham and who will have access to all the tools necessary to be the next big thing," he says. "We want to see people from all stages of their business development, from those with ideas to those who are ready to seek funding, and want a supportive network to help them accelerate to the next level.
"Oxygen is here to literally breathe life into a vision and turn it into reality. Our aim is to bring the best to Birmingham and encourage them to stay."
Here's the inside track on how to get noticed by the judges: