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Embracing Digital Transformation to Boost Growth Opportunities

Date: 28th November 2019
Location: Squire Patton Boggs (UK) LLP, 1 Hardman Square, M3 3EB
Time: 8:00am - 1:30pm
Theme: Sustainability, Operational efficiency, Digital & Technology

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By 2030 the UK will be the global leader in the creation, adoption and export of advanced digital technologies, shaping how the modern world does business. These new technologies will enable faster, more responsive and more efficient processes to deliver improved productivity and higher quality products and services at a reduced cost (Made Smarter UK).

SMEs wanting to capitalise on the emerging technologies and their benefits will have to plan ahead and understand how these can be implemented across different business functions. This event will aim to help companies in the Green Technologies & Services and Manufacturing sectors understand:

  • The digital landscape and sector growth
  • Existing and emerging digital technologies
  • Steps they can take towards digitalisation


During the session you’ll hear from leading organisations such as PwC, Amazon Web Services and Green Custard, as well as SMEs in the two sectors who will speak about their digitalisation journey.

You will also hear from the Hub, who will provide an overview of the fully funded help and support we can offer including:

  • Green Technologies & Services: Providing access to tailored sales and business opportunities, specialist sector support and networking events to capitalise on the growing green tech market and low carbon supply chain
  • Manufacturing: Specialist manufacturing fully-funded support and grant funding available for eligible Sales & Marketing, Operations, IT& Systems and Innovation projects via the Manufacturing growth Fund.
  • Digital Innovation: Supporting the adoption of digital technologies to enhance existing business offering as well as develop new products and services with expert support, funding and tailored resources. The digital innovation team will also be hosting a “How digitally ready are you” 1-2-1 diagnostic clinic for interested companies.
  • Made Smarter, the £20million UK-government backed Industry 4.0 Accelerator initiative designed to drive UK manufacturing growth, productivity and transformation, will also be attending and supporting the event with specialist programme advisors present.

The event will also provide attendees with an opportunity to view a 3D Printer and hear from Mark Chester, Innovation Development Manager at Manchester Metropolitan University's PrintCity about the support available to businesses interested in the technology.



Registration, breakfast and networking


Welcome and Introductions, Katherine Burden, Low Carbon Sector Lead, GC Business Growth Hub


Introduction to the Digital Economy and Emerging Technologies, Mike Ryan, Futurist, Fusion Future


SME case study – Richard Hagan, Managing Director, Crystal Doors (Robotics and Automation)


SME Case Study – Steven Holland, Commercial Director, Thermatic (IoT)


SME Case Study – Dr Somayeh Taheri, CEO & Chairman, UrbanChain (Blockchain)


'Seeing is Believing' VR/AR report - How virtual and augmented reality is transforming business and the economy, Christopher Whelan,VR/AR & Innovation Marketing Manager, PwC & #NWInnovationForum co-founder


Q&A with Refreshments


IoT is not about the technology IoT is about business outcomes, Philippe Hougardy, EMEA Sr.Business Development Manager, Amazon Web Services


Beginning your IoT project - Building IoT Proof of Concepts, Jonathan Custance, Director, Green Custard


Specialist advice and funding

  • Mark Chester, Innovation Development Manager, Manchester Metropolitan University, PrintCity
  • Geoff Crossley, Senior Manufacturing Advisor, GC Business Growth Hub
  • Steve Cleaver, Business Adviser, Made Smarter
  • Rhiannon Hunt, Eco innovation Advisor, GC Business Growth Hub
  • Andrew North, Senior Business Advisor - Innovation Specialist, GC Business Growth Hub


Roundup, Mike Ryan, Futurist, Fusion Futures


Working Lunch


How digital ready are you? 1-2-1 Clinics with Digital Innovation Team and networking


Event Close

Speaker List

Philippe Hougardy, EMEA Sr. Business Development Manager for IoT, Amazon Web Services

Formerly working for Telcos for 10 years, Philippe participated in the elaboration of the deployment of Luxembourg smart city. He also spent a few years working in SF Bay Area on innovation IoT, and blockchain. Now at AWS EMEA, Philippe supports customers and partners to achieve innovative and successful projects taking advantage of IoT solutions.

Jonathan Custance, Director, Green Custard

Jonathan is a University of Cambridge Computer Science alumnus and established entrepreneur based in the city. He is an IoT advocate and subject specialist, as well as an AWS Consulting Partner. His company, Green Custard, just celebrated their 10th Anniversary, winning the Small Business of the Year and Overall Winner at the SME Cambridgeshire Business Awards 2019 and is now a finalist for the national awards (winner announced December 2019).

Richard Hagan, Managing Director, Crystal Doors

Richard Hagan, MD of Crystal Doors embraced Industry 4.0 as an early adopter, inspired by the benefits our data age brings. 25 years at the helm, he has seen furniture manufacturing in the UK evolving to automation, robotics and now Industry 4.0. As a Fellow of IN4.0 Group and a Rochdale manufacturing Ambassador, the inspiring journey he took explains why the holy grail of manufacturing is here today. Richard has showcased to many small and large companies the true concept of Industry 4.0, and how simple steps can make great savings.

Steven Holland, Commercial Director, Thermatic

As a Commercial Director, Steve constantly works on re-shaping the business to better suit the customer’s needs and he will be speaking about the company's IoT journey. Thermatic provide a national service for Commercial Heating, Cooling, Refrigeration or Drainage and look after over 7000 sites all throughout the UK that ranges from manufacturing, retail, construction and healthcare. In 2018, the company launched an Engineering Academy, which was officially opened by GM Mayor Andy Burnham, to train their engineers and help tackle the region's skills gap. 

Mike Ryan, Futurist, morse. ai
Mike is a successful entrepreneur and futurist. A born disruptor, he eats lives and breathes future thinking and helping large organisations on their future strategy. An expert in Horizon Mapping and foresight studies and understands how to navigate current and future disruptions delivering successful business objectives. Mike has 20+ years experience in emerging technology foreseeing changes to our world. Working with large organisations including MBNA, EY, PWC, BBC, Sage, IBM, Pepsico and Cisco.

Dr Somayeh Taheri, CEO & Chairman, UrbanChain

Somayeh is the CEO of UrbanChain, where she leads the company based on its mission to bring renewable energy to the mainstream market, provide energy as a service, maximise transparency and trust, and significantly reduce energy bills for end users. UrbanChain was founded in 2017 based on her research discovery about how to integrate and automate various business processes in different urban service sectors, and to eliminate the middlemen with blockchain and AI technologies. Making innovation work for people is what it matters for Somayeh. She is the alumni of the University of Manchester and UCL.


Chris Whelan, PwC

VR/AR & Innovation Marketing Manager & #NWInnovationForum co-founder

Chris is currently PwC's UK marketing leader for VR/AR & broader innovation products and services. He's helping organisations and the wider society with the adoption of Emerging Technologies. VR & AR is a big passion and interest area for Chris and he'll share insights from PwC's 'Seeing is Believing' VR/AR report - How virtual and augmented reality is transforming business and the economy. 

Why attend?

  • To expand personal knowledge and understanding of a range of digital technologies such as IoT, AR, VR, Analytics and others and the benefits of their implementation
  • To get access to funded support and advice on how to get started on your digitalisation journey
  • To network and develop new and useful relationships within the Greater Manchester green tech and manufacturing communities

*Please note, places are restricted to one delegate per company

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Please note:

Our workshops are part-funded by European Regional Development Funds.

Our workshops are delivered free of charge to participants; however, as they are fully-funded, they are classed as state aid to participating businesses and are subject to state aid rules and the associated eligibility criteria.

Eligibility Criteria:

  • Location: Greater Manchester based companies in the green tech sector / Greater Manchester and North West based manufacturing clients
  • SME: Small or medium enterprise i.e. less than 250 (Full Time Equivalent) employees and annual turnover less than 50 Million Euro OR Balance Sheet less than 43 million Euro 
  • Sector Restrictions may also apply