Manchester Smart Cafè: key issues to encourage growth in the innovation based sector

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The focus of the Café held in Manchester the 9th of July was to identify the key issues that are facing Manchester in relation to encouraging growth in the innovation based sector. Participants discussed innovation in its widest sense. They examined a number of issues including existing partnerships, informal and formal networks, the role of industry and the wider private sector, the role of individual owner managers of SMEs, public procurement, communication between agencies, access to finance and risk taking in the public sector, existing strategies and governance currently in place and how this is working since the removal of Regional Development Agencies in the England.

Manchester’s Smart Café targeted and included a range of policy makers and stakeholders in the sub region from both the public and private sector and included: Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester Science Parks, Manchester City Council, Wigan Council, Oldham Council, Salford Council,Manchester Local Enterprise Partnership, Winning Pitch, Access to Finance North West, Enterprise Europe Network, New Economy .

The discussions focused on what works and what doesn’t. It was actively encouraged a frank and open debate to try to identify the key issues. Participants started to identify key events over the next 2 years which Smart Europe may be useful as a tool to assist us with our wider work to promote innovation, employment creation, and growth, including how it might link to the development of the Regional Innovation Strategy for Smart Specialisation for Greater Manchester which will be necessary to have in place before the new Structural Fund programmes come into effect in 2014.
During the discussion participants suggested the need to capture the passion of individuals in driving innovation, those that effectively create growth and jobs, eg company owners, and also assess the effectiveness of both informal as well as formal business networks and how they are funded. It was expressed the need to assess how could be make it easier for the business community to access finance, and how create more linkages between the private and public sector and opportunities to drive growth through procurement opportunities.