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Success of first Greater Connected programme for GM Creative, Digital and Tech business leaders leads to 12 month roll-out

The Business Growth Hub is set to offer over one hundred of the region’s most ambitious firms the chance to tackle barriers to growth through increased peer-to-peer engagement and joint problem-solving.

A fully-funded programme tailored to help digital, creative and tech companies stabilise, adapt and grow: find out more

The Hub is set to offer over one hundred of the region’s most ambitious firms the chance to tackle barriers to growth through increased peer-to-peer engagement and joint problem-solving.

Our Greater Connected initiative is a new intensive, high-growth scale-up programme, held over three days, which is specifically aimed at the most dynamic creative, digital and tech SMEs.  

Supported by funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), Greater Connected has been devised to offer companies with high growth potential the chance to work together to tackle bigger picture issues within their own organisations. This approach is often a feature of accelerator programmes aimed at start-ups and early stage businesses.

It has also been found to help unlock opportunities and spark fresh thinking within more established companies looking to scale-up and grow quickly. However, it is rare for busy business leaders to get the opportunity to work with other entrepreneurs and discuss their objectives, priorities, challenges and growth plans in a facilitated, non-competitive environment.

This is what the Greater Connected programme set out to address when it was piloted last December. Due to its success it will now be ramped up throughout 2017, with an additional six sessions planned throughout the coming year.

The first group of 18 Greater Manchester companies to road-test the programme included one of the UK’s leading app development firms Apadmi, digital marketing specialists theEword, sustainable computing pioneers Sunde Technologies, digital content providers Tunafish, coding training company Northcoders and Toast PR agency.

Supported by a team of specialist Hub advisors, key topics discussed included developing strategies for achieving business goals, creating better and more productive teams, navigating internal conflict and improving negotiation, and boosting leadership skills.

Delegates also learned what were the most effective sales, marketing and communications techniques to help secure funding, win new contracts and attract and retain high-quality staff.

Workshops involving the whole cohort were complemented by smaller and more intimate group sessions, and each business was assigned a dedicated advisor during the programme.

These advisors will continue to support every participating business on a one-to-one basis over the years to come, helping them to achieve their goals and address any barriers to growth identified through the Greater Connected process via the Hub’s extensive network of business experts and partners in the wider commercial ecosystem. This includes other services delivered by the Hub’s parent organisation, the Manchester Growth Company.

Feedback from all participating companies on the pilot was overwhelmingly positive, with many delegates reporting that the experience has made them rethink important aspects of their current business model and company culture.

Bash Ali, Managing Director of Sunde Technologies, said some new thinking inspired by the programme had now become a core part of his business strategy, adding that “Greater Connected has provided us with a deeper understanding of the dynamics of today’s modern business and crucially how we can apply these learnings to improve our own performance.”

For Nick Black, CEO and co-founder of Apadmi, Greater Connected delivered fantastic collaboration and shared learning opportunities which he described as being “good for the whole city” and which were “crucial for all of us to build our businesses.”

Dan Nolan, Managing Director of theEword, said he had gained invaluable clarity from the process in terms of getting time to think and refocusing his priorities. He concluded by saying “I can’t think of a better way to have spent three days for my business.”

Katie Peate, head of creative, digital and tech, said: “Greater Manchester is enjoying a real boom within the digital and tech sectors currently, and we have hundreds of innovative, ambitious and growth-hungry SMEs all working flat-out to secure success. But busy business leaders need to be able to step back from the coalface and take a longer-term view of their objectives, the wider commercial landscape, and their direction of travel.

Katie Peate, Greater Connected

“Peer-to-peer problem solving is one very effective way to change someone’s thinking, unlock new business opportunities and drive innovation, but entrepreneurs need a facilitated, focussed and collaborative environment to share ideas and insights.

“The Greater Connected programme has been designed to give SMEs the chance to take a more holistic view of what they do, where they are, and where they are going, and also stimulate constructive collaboration. Feedback from our first cohort suggests this approach has worked incredibly well, and we are extending the programme to other firms as a result.

“Our overall goal is to develop initiatives which will rapidly increase the levels of growth within the creative, digital and tech sectors in Greater Manchester, and create thousands of new jobs as a result. Supporting SMEs as they look to expand is key to this, which is why the success of a programme like Greater Connected is so important.”   

Greater Connected is a fully-funded programme meaning that qualifying businesses do not need to pay to take part. Companies wishing to register their interest in a future Greater Connected session can visit 

You can also watch a short video capturing the experiences of the first Greater Connected cohort here

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