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Digital & Technology

Accelerating the power of the digital economy

From the world’s first stored computer programme, to the creativity and innovation of MediaCityUK, Europe’s largest purpose-built digital and media hub, Greater Manchester’s rich history of hi-tech firsts is well known. 

Its a heritage that has proved a springboard to even greater things and today Manchester is rightly positioned as the UK’s top digital city, with over 10,000 high quality digital and technical businesses, employing over 86,000 people. 

Thriving digital economy

At the recent Digital City Festival, of which GC Business Growth Hub were a key sponsor, it was clear that our city-region is buzzingThe event was opened by Janine Smith, Director of GC Business Growth Hub, and brought together some of GM’s leading digital, creative and technology businesses to explore topics such as skills, the digital economy and global opportunities. 

We hosted three events, which brought together industry professionals and though leaders to discuss some of the challenges facing the sector.  Hosted by Richard Jeffrey, National Director of GC Business at the Growth Company, ‘Is 2021 the year to go global?’ looked at how the private and public sector can work together to help the sector expand internationally. A second session, ‘Unlocking & maximising digital economy investment,’ featured a panel of business angels and private equity investors and covered strategic tips on how to secure finance. 

We also ran a series of spotlight sessions which shone a light on how the GM’s tech cluster is building links with other major cities around the world.  

Speaking at a another key-note session on accelerating the power of the digital economy, I was able to expand on the role that  the Hub plays in nurturing this business community and how we guide and prepare businesses not only to be investment-ready but also to find the finance that’s most suitable for them.    

We work closely with the region’s business angels, introducing the innovators to the investors, and helping to forge new partnerships. Together, its these efforts that make GM’s digital economy so successful and such a key part of the region’s economy. 

The opportunities that arise, and the ideas that take shape, in events such as the Digital City Festival are invaluable

Sarah Novotny, Head of Digital, Creative and Tech Sector Business Support

Going global

Of course, the next logical step is taking this success abroad and exploring routes to international markets. For GM’s businesses, global markets have never been more accessible, and we’re excited to be helping them discover new international opportunitiesfacilitate international collaborations, and preparing leaders to become global players and achieve stronger financial performance. This is, of course, the essence of our Global Scale-Up Programme, which gives the city-region’s SMEs access to a global market entry network alongside a combination of coaching and advise on going global. 

Sean Brown, founder and CEO of ecommerce platform Mercartorecently took advantage of the programme, as part of the company’s plans to increase its global marketas well as growing its Manchester-based team by 50%. As Sean has explained: “The help we received from all of the organisations involved has helped us grow in key areas, from international growth to building internal structures and processes that will ensure our stability as we scale-up.”  

Working in isolation, and not making use of all the global doors that have opened for GM businesses, would have had a catastrophic impact and dramatically slowed the growth of the sector.  Instead, we have embraced globalisation, reaching out to other cities from New York to Osaka, and turning GM into a cosmopolitan hub, and a base for the likes of Google and Microsoft, as well as homegrown talent such as and AutoTrader.  

It was on this theme that we ran a series of Going Global International spotlight sessions offering insights into how the local tech cluster in GM can move into markets in the US, Japan and Australia. These sessions are still able to watch via our YouTube channel and I urge any business owners with growth ambitions to take time to hear from these experts. 

Championing diversity

Alongside GM’s rich history of technological development, we also have a tradition of embracing diversity. In June, as part of an innovative link up with partners in London, we’re staging a virtual five-day trade mission to New York for Black, Asian and mixed background tech founders. The mission will help tech companies explore plans to expand across North America, and is part of our wider commitment to help companies from a range of diverse communities. 

The opportunities that arise, and the ideas that take shape, in events such as thDigital City Festival are invaluable; they allow us to feel the strength our community, find a common purpose and inspire a better future.  

And in current times, they also remind us of the importance of sharing knowledge and building community in order to tackle challenges and achieve ambitions


Find out more: High-impact support for Digital, Creative and Tech businesses in Greater Manchester.
get in touch with us here or on 0161 359 3050.


Sarah Novotny

Sarah Novotny, Head of Digital, Creative and Tech Sector Business Support

Sarah is passionate about bringing effective business growth strategies to the community behind Greater Manchester’s digital, creative and tech sector.

With almost a decade of experience in growing teams and businesses, Sarah strives to bring improvement by connecting creative minds and establishing environments which accelerate growth

Sarah brings an international perspective and is well known for her straight to the point way of approaching business support. She has worked with teams in blue chips, Scaleups, SMEs and Startups, and prides herself in bringing learnings around strategy, sales, innovation, pricing and productization from all these adventures into an ambition to interlink and align industry needs with the GM sector support offering.

Sarah leads several programmes for the GC Business Growth Hub including Greater Connected, Exceed and the Creative Scale-Up Programme which are delivered to the Greater Manchester digital, creative and tech sector network.

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