Businesses across Greater Manchester are being invited to take part in a new event exploring how personal data is being used as the digital revolution gathers pace, affecting every aspect of how we live and work.

Our Digital Futures: Data and Ethics looks at the rise of digital technologies and the benefits and challenges of developing and adopting ethical practices. The event is focused on innovation on key themes including privacy, security, diversity and inclusion, along with drivers of change such as digital health, artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things.

Designed to provide a valuable opportunity for commercial collaboration, the event takes the form of a webinar and is followed by a virtual Innovation Lab. The format will give Greater Manchester SMEs a chance to work alongside large corporates and leading academics in solving data and ethics challenges. In turn, Our Digital Futures: Data and Ethics provides big businesses with opportunities to benefit from the fresh and disruptive thinking in the SME market.

The event is part of Innovate Manchester, an ambitious and participatory programme created by MIDAS, GC Business Growth Hub and being produced by FutureEverything. The series brings together business, academia and creative thinkers to enable them to collaborate on progressive ideas.

The Our Digital Futures webinar will be chaired by well-known Manchester entrepreneur Vikas Shah MBE and features a keynote from Professor Andy Miah, Chair in Science, Communication & Future Media at the University of Salford.

The panellists include Emer Coleman, Project Director at Up Ventures, which operates an internationally-renowned accelerator programme for tech start-ups. From a base at The Landing in Salford, Up Ventures also works in partnership with GCHQ, the UK’s security and intelligence agency, supporting UK companies using data to help improve the safety of people online.

Michael Chapman, Programme Manager at Allscripts, the American IT company focused on healthcare, is also taking part. Allscripts is a leader in electronic patient records (EPR), population health, and patient engagement. The company has a base in Manchester and, globally, works with over 180,000 physicians, in 2,700 hospitals and 13,000 extended care organisations.

Tim Newns, Chief Executive of MIDAS, commented: “Innovation drove the first Industrial Revolution and what we are seeing today is no less dramatic, with emerging digital technologies transforming our way of life. Greater Manchester has a successful £5 billion digital ecosystem featuring start-ups and SMEs to global brands including Google, Microsoft, IBM and Cisco – as well as numerous home grown unicorns. We are well-placed to set the agenda for national discussions about what comes next in terms of expectations and governance. The Our Digital Futures event recognises that demands for more transparency and higher ethical standards grow by the day. We want to support firms in developing and adopting ethical practices – whether they are in SMEs or large companies.

“Greater Manchester has a very significant e-commerce cluster, with businesses like AO.com, The Hut Group, Fanatics and many others making great strides. Cyber security is no less important. The creation of a strategic hub in Manchester for GCHQ, the government security agency, has drawn global players in the form of Raytheon, BAE Systems and Northrup Grumman. It is businesses within these and other technology areas where we are strong, including Fintech, which will greatly benefit from home grown innovation that this programme is generating.”

Richard Jeffery, Director of Business Growth at the Growth Company said: “The new generation of innovators are certainly conscious of data and ethics issues, not least because, as a society, there has been a public awakening and we are less digitally innocent than we once were. Entrepreneurs are attuned to where the market is going and how standards are changing. Our event is about helping foster discussion, innovation and understanding and collaboration, all of which can benefit a wide variety of SMEs in our region.”

Our Digital Futures: Data and Ethics takes place on Wednesday 23rd September – 9:30-11:00am. To register, please use this link https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/our-digital-futures-data-and-ethics-tickets-118065995571

It will be followed an invite-only workshop. This virtual Innovation Lab is a full-day workshop which is split across two days to create a better experience, taking place on October 7th and 8th.

The Innovate Manchester programme is part of the Build Back Better campaign to help the city region recover from the impact of the COVID pandemic. 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.