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Greater Manchester businesses in the spotlight at SXSW showcase

Three businesses from Greater Manchester were amongst the delegation from the region that attended South by Southwest (SXSW) in Austin, Texas, an essential destination for global professionals in creative industries.

Broaden, Bolton Film Festival and VIVID Manchester went to SXSW as guests of GC Business Growth Hub, part of The Growth Company and part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund.

They went alongside a high profile leadership team from Greater Manchester, including Mayor Andy Burnham and Greater Manchester Economy Lead Cllr Bev Craig, leader of Manchester City Council.

SXSW represents an opportunity for creative businesses to immerse themselves in conferences and festivals that celebrate the convergence of tech, film, music, education, and culture from all corners of the world.

Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham said: “Greater Manchester went out to SXSW this month with a clear goal in mind: to show to the world that when it comes to music, culture, creativity and innovation, our city-region is the place to be.

“The local businesses that joined the delegation are all great ambassadors for our thriving creative industries, and by flying the flag for Greater Manchester at major global events like this we can really help put them on the map and give them a chance to expand their horizons.”

They said: “In 2023, there can be a lot of barriers to human interaction between creative businesses and local, regional and national leadership.

“Being here at SXSW with the cities’ leaders, in person, means we’ve been able to cut through the noise and talk about the things that matter to us as videographers, business owners and residents of a city that we love. Furthermore, we could never have had this level of meaningful interaction if it wasn’t for being at such a mind-opening, globally relevant event.”

Rachel Emson, MD of creative agency VIVID Manchester also found the global opportunities valuable. She said “Being part of the US mission with Andy Burnham and Bev Craig has been invaluable for our business. In just a few days we’ve met agencies from across the world from New York to Slovakia and Brazil – relationships that have been glued together by our leaders being present and sharing Manchester’s message loud and proud.

“We’ve really felt like part of the Greater Manchester scene, and it has provided the opportunity to celebrate this on the global stage. We’re still firm believers that what Manchester says today, the rest of the world says tomorrow.”

The third business to attend was the Bolton Film Festival, and director Adrian Barber said: “It has been invaluable attending SXSW. Andy Burnham and Bev Craig have acted as ambassadors, not just for Manchester but for the creative industries as a whole. They’ve painted a vision for the city-region’s future in the UK and in global markets – and the film industry is a fast-growing sector that is a key part of this.”

Becki Coen, Programme Manager – Digital, Creative & Tech Sector at GC Business Growth Hub, said: “SXSW represented a unique opportunity for these creative businesses from Greater Manchester to reach new connections and markets from around the world.

“They all found it valuable to be a part of the wider Manchester delegation and having that support and kudos while networking helped to open doors and broaden their horizons. They have all come away from the event with plenty of contacts to reach out to now that they’re back in the UK and we’re excited to see where these opportunities take them next.”

Cllr Bev Craig, Leader of Manchester City Council and Greater Manchester Economy Lead, said: “We are a world class city-region with the confidence to have a profile on the global stage, building new relationships and opening up new opportunities, including for our businesses. North America is a key market and it’s great to hear that our recent mission to the States is already opening up fresh new opportunities.

“Manchester is already recognised as a growing global hub for digital, tech and creative industries but we want to grow even more.

“While there’s a lot which can be accomplished digitally and remotely sometimes there is no substitute for in person advocacy and relationship building.”


Businesses looking to access specialist support can visit for more information about the organisation’s extensive range of services. This and other GC Business Growth Hub projects are part-financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the GM 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.

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