Businesses across Greater Manchester are being invited to take part in a series of unique and pioneering innovation events where small and medium-sized enterprises collaborate with larger organisations to help create a more sustainable future.

Innovate Manchester supports the Build Back Better campaign to help the city region recover from the impact of the COVID pandemic. It will bring together business, academia and creative thinkers to enable them to work together on progressive ideas across four key themes, with each event followed up by its own Innovation Lab workshop.

The ambitious and participatory events will take place between June 2020 and February 2021. They have been created by MIDAS and GC Business Growth Hub, part of the Growth Company, are part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund, and are curated and delivered by FutureEverything.

The programme will take place online initially and represents an opportunity for Greater Manchester’s inspiring SMEs who are adept at disrupting markets and industries to connect with global-scale organisations.

The four themes reflect the city region’s world class strengths in advanced materials, digital innovation and sustainability, and are linked to Greater Manchester’s Local Industrial Strategy:

·         Changing the Way We Produce and Consume

·         Sustainable Cities and Infrastructure

·         Digital Futures: Data and Ethical Tech

·         The Future of Human Experiences and Human Centred Design

Tim Newns, Chief Executive of MIDAS, commented: “We know that being innovative, pioneering and thinking differently have been the basis of Greater Manchester’s success over the last two centuries, whether you take the words of Disraeli or Tony Wilson, these traits are part of our mantra. We also know that these things are at the heart of a successful and highly productive economy and hold the key to us recovering from the last few months stronger, enabling us to Build Back Better. Innovate Manchester is about exactly this, capitalising on Greater Manchester’s most exciting innovation opportunities, born out of collaboration between firms, large and small, and academia, in order for us to be at the centre of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. It’s often been the case that the most valuable and disruptive ideas are hatched in small and medium-sized organisations – places where it’s sometimes easier to challenge perceived wisdoms, but they need a market place and capacity for these ideas and that’s where the collaboration with major industry brings it all together. “

Richard Jeffery, Director of Business Growth Hub at the Growth Company said: “Innovate Manchester is about helping talent and ideas thrive, and is reaching out to SMEs, large organisations and social enterprises interested in creating more sustainable futures. These events are collaborative, participatory and inclusive, and a great opportunity for Greater Manchester’s SMEs to share the stage with world leading organisations. They’re about sharing knowledge and skills, exploring new approaches, and finding different perspectives on the complex challenges we face, and I’d encourage any small or medium sized business to book their place now.”

Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester:  “Our city region has collaborated well to address the enormous challenges presented by COVID. Our strengths in clean growth, digital, health innovation and advanced materials and manufacturing strategies are a strong framework on which to develop the notion of building back a better way of working and doing business. Innovate Manchester will enable smart collaborations across sectors and build on the pioneering and progressive approach that has long driven innovation in Greater Manchester. The speakers are inspiring examples of the brilliant minds and entrepreneurial spirit alive and well in our region.”

Claire Tymon, Executive Director of FutureEverything, commented: “Since 1995, FutureEverything has been kickstarting conversation and co-designing the future of digital culture with communities around the world. As an internationally renowned organisation and a Manchester born and based Social Enterprise working across art, culture and digital innovation, we felt empowered by our region’s initiative, Innovate Manchester. Creating collaborations in key thematic areas linked to a more diverse, inclusive and sustainable future for us all is something that is very close to our heart. We are very proud to be curating and delivering this programme.”

Each of the four events will introduce and explore a major theme, resulting in expert design-led facilitation labs involving SMEs and academia to solve key challenges presented by large organisations.

The first event Changing the Way we Produce and Consume invites companies from all sectors to collaborate on how best to leverage Greater Manchester’s world-leading advanced materials capabilities and emerging technologies to create new business models, products and services, including:

·         New materials for sustainable or smart packaging

·         New business models for re-use

·         Digital transformation and new technologies

·         Supply chain innovation

The introductory Webinar takes place Wednesday 10th June at 9:30am-11am. Confirmed speakers include:

·         Vikas Shah MBE

·         Prof. Michael Shaver, The University of Manchester

·         Sophie Walker, COO and Co-Founder, Dsposal

·         Stuart Hayward Higham, Technical Development Director SUEZ Recycling and Recovery UK (TBC)

It is followed by a two-part Virtual Innovation Lab on Wednesday 17th June and Thursday 18th June.

SMEs based in Greater Manchester and interested in exploring solutions to help solve any of the challenges related to the Innovate Manchester themes can join the Webinar and Virtual Innovation Lab; please register here.

Large organisations with a key challenge related to any of the Innovate Manchester themes which are interested in attending the Webinar and Virtual Innovation Lab, please register here.

Innovate Manchester and other GC Business Growth Hub projects are part-financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the GC Business Growth Hub project designed to help ambitious SME businesses achieve growth and increase employment in Greater Manchester. The Hub is also supported by the Greater Manchester Combined Authority and Greater Manchester local authorities.