City sets out innovation strategy

Manchester needs to develop more incubation space such as the Sharp Project and Manchester Science Park to nurture innovative businesses, according to the latest New Economy Working Paper.

The Stimulating Business Innovation report was launched this week at an event hosted by Downtown Manchester in Business at the Royal Exchange.

Among the recommendations in the report is that Midas, the inward investment agency, should encourage collaboration between large global companies with small firms housed in areas such as the Oxford Road corridor, Sharp Project and Media City UK.

The paper suggests that the recent economic downturn and changing policy and institutional structures make it timely to review approaches to the delivery of business innovation support across Manchester.

The report was written by Kram Sadiq, director of Manchester Economics, Prof Philip Shapira of Manchester Business School and Alexander Roy, head of economic analysis at Manchester's Commission for the New Economy, which commissioned the study.

Sadiq said: "There are around 90,000 businesses in Greater Manchester, most of which are small or medium-sized firms.

"Many of these firms could benefit from more focused and consistent support to undertake innovation in products, processes, services and business models. Greater Manchester needs to improve its approach to providing that kind of support to the businesses that it nurtures".

Greater Manchester is ranked 21 out of 53 sub-regions nationally according to a recent summary index of business and enterprise indicators. Greater Manchester also lags behind key benchmark cities both in per capita economic performance and in achieving sufficient scale and scope of activity in business innovation to grow its economic standing.

The New Economy claims there are between 15,000 and 33,000, or 16% to 35% of the total stock of Greater Manchester businesses, with the potential for high growth.

The report proposes a three-part strategy to build up innovation support for local enterprises in Greater Manchester, which involves:

  • strengthening Greater Manchester's business innovation leadership;
  • anchoring an open and accessible high-quality business innovation network; and
  • increasing the engagement of demand-led business support.

The paper also recommends that Manchester should do more to combine with other UK cities to strengthen the case for reinvestment in UK business innovation.

"Stimulating Business Innovation" is part of the New Economy Working Paper series.

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