Walkway in Manchester with two large, glass office-style buildings on either side
UKSPF Economy

Supporting Greater Manchester’s businesses to innovate and grow

  • A new specialist service will better connect innovative businesses and entrepreneurs with Greater Manchester’s fast-evolving innovation eco-system.
  • Commercialisation specialists will work with businesses to link them with research and world-leading expertise that will accelerate getting innovations to market.
  • UKSPF initiative to be delivered by GM Business Growth Hub in partnership with city-region’s universities and local authorities.

A new ‘Innovation Ecosystem Navigation Service’ will help businesses and entrepreneurs to accelerate their innovative ideas into commercial products and services by helping them to access the different sources of specialist innovation support available in - and connected to - Greater Manchester’s innovation ecosystem.

Greater Manchester Business Growth Hub will work with Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) to lead the delivery of this service through the city-region’s UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF) allocation.

The service will connect businesses to commercialisation-focused resources, university expertise and research, development and translation resources to take their innovations forward, making the existing ecosystem much more integrated and accessible.

The service aligns with the Greater Manchester Innovation Plan, which aims to stimulate long term innovation-led and inclusive economic development by creating a more effective city-region wide system for commercialising ideas, technologies and services.

Leader of Manchester City Council and Greater Manchester’s Lead for Economy, Councillor Bev Craig said: “Supporting innovation is crucial to the success of Levelling Up the country and has been central to the evolution of Greater Manchester.

“We have a proud history of innovation from the world’s first passenger railway to the world’s first stored program electronic computer.

“This progressive spirit is mirrored in this new service, which will provide a helping hand to those who need support navigating our expert yet extensive innovation ecosystem and its wide range of nationally and internationally leading resources.

“Helping our businesses to access relevant support through advice, guidance and grants in this way will be a powerful tool for growth as innovation and entrepreneurialism will create high-quality jobs and opportunities for those who live and work here.”

‘Local innovation connectors’ will be embedded in all ten boroughs in the city-region, who will work with local authorities to identify and engage with businesses and entrepreneurs with innovative ideas.

Commercialisation specialists will then offer to develop a comprehensive package of support, including access to industry and higher education leaders and facilities. This will ensure a tailored plan can be created underpinned by robust, quality evidence, which then sets outa roadmap of how the innovation ecosystem can help get products and services to market.

Janine Smith, Director, GM Business Growth Hub said: “The GM Business Growth Hub has been at the forefront of supporting Greater Manchester businesses for over a decade, and we are proud to be part of the city-region’s rich legacy of entrepreneurship and innovation.

“While we have helped many businesses on their innovation journey, it can be daunting for some to navigate and articulate what they need to bring their new products and services to market. This new service, led by Yvonne Grady, Head of Innovation, will accelerate and better connect innovative businesses and entrepreneurs with the support and expertise available in a more inclusive and accessible way. We’re excited to lead on this important new service and further develop the already vibrant Greater Manchester innovation eco-system.”

The outcomes of the service will also align with priorities of Innovation Greater Manchester – a business-led partnership that harnesses the collaborative power of businesses, universities, and local government to drive productivity through research and innovation.

Jessica Bowles, member of the Innovation Greater Manchester Board said: “Our ambitions for the future of Greater Manchester can only be achieved through a deep partnership between academia, local government and the expertise of our business community. This ‘triple helix’ approach provides the potential for a really exciting future for our local economy.”

Speaking about the importance of the role of academic institutions in the delivery of the service, Rachel Woolley, Director of Research and Knowledge Exchange from University of Salford said: “The Greater Manchester Innovation Ecosystem is strong across a huge range of specialisms and is underpinned by the research and knowledge exchange capabilities and assets of our city-region’s universities.

“The new Innovation Ecosystem Navigation Service will help businesses, universities and other partners in the ecosystem to work together more effectively, accelerating the translation of ideas from research to commercialisation through the creation of improved linkages across our growing range of support options.

“Through the service, more businesses will be supported to innovate and grow by connecting with Greater Manchester’s universities and the University of Salford is excited to be playing a part in the process.”

Article Published: 26/02/2024 10:23 AM