Chris Greenhalgh, programme development and delivery manager and head of the innovation service at Business Growth Hub, highlights the need for Greater Manchester to better connect our innovation assets through a strong network , which can help forge new collaboration and investment.
Innovation needs a spark of inspiration. This can come from your family, colleagues at work, customers or suppliers – whether they are dealing with a problem, spotting an opportunity or just sharing their thoughts and ideas. This just goes to show that our personal and professional network is a valuable asset. It can help you generate ideas, identify ways to overcome problems and most importantly, find the right support.
Being part of a robust network will enhance the chances of innovating successfully. Having connections with entrepreneurs, businesses and investors, while also understanding who to speak to in universities and science parks can make it easier for innovators to discover the specialist know-how, finance or skills they require to convert their ideas into a commercial success.
Research has shown that some of Europe’s most successful city economies have well developed innovation networks, which help them to capitaise on innovation opportunities and foster success. In Greater Manchester we have identified that there is a need to emulate this by better connecting the wealth of knowledge, research facilities and industry institutions. This will help make it easier for companies to plug into a wider network of expertise and help raise the level of investment in research and innovation.
The latest Manchester Business Survey, which highlights that a third of Manchester companies intend to launch a new product or service in the next 12 months, also reveals that innovation is set to be a key challenge over the next year. In addition, around seven in 10 businesses have engaged in innovation activities in the last three years.
Recognising this challenge, the Business Growth Hub is now actively working with a number of different partners to better connect innovation activities, resources and businesses. This will help transform Greater Manchester into a beacon for creativity, boost investment opportunities and provide a fertile ground for business leaders to develop and commercilaise new ideas.
With Manchester set to be the City of Science in 2016, what could be a better basis to bring partners together to start to build a network. This will enable businesses to forge the connections they need – not just for now, but for the future too.