Landmark agreement between Greater Manchester and Innovate UK to boost innovation and R&D in the city-region

Greater Manchester’s burgeoning innovation ecosystem has taken another major step forward with the signing of an agreement with the UK's national innovation agency, Innovate UK.

The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA), Innovation Greater Manchester and Innovate UK commits the parties to closer collaboration to support business innovation.

The agreement seeks to strengthen research and innovation clusters across Greater Manchester and to accelerate investments around long-term innovation developments.

The region’s universities will be at the heart of the city’s innovation ecosystem. The University of Manchester will continue to build on its existing world class tradition of commercialisation of research in step with GMCA and Innovate UK. This past year alone has seen the University create ten new spin-out companies.

The parties have also agreed to work on a shared plan for the period to 2030, which will set out how the development of innovation assets in Greater Manchester will inform Innovate UK activities.

The agreement was signed by Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, Innovate UK CEO, Indro Mukerjee, and Chair of Greater Manchester Business Board (GM LEP), Lou Cordwell, at a special event held today (Friday 2 December) at the Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre (GEIC) at The University of Manchester. The GEIC is a facility which helps companies develop new technologies, products and processes that exploit the properties of graphene and other 2D materials.

Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, said: “This agreement will strengthen collaboration between Greater Manchester and Innovate UK, and in doing so help deliver a high-growth, high-wage economy powered by innovation.

“Going back to the first Industrial Revolution, Greater Manchester has a proud history of industry and innovation. More recently we pioneered the development of graphene, and have emerging strengths in areas like advanced manufacturing, health innovation and the digital and creative industries.

“Levelling up the country means rebalancing R&D spending so that regions can realise their potential. Innovation stimulates sustainable growth, which leads to better quality jobs and increased wages, raising the living standards of people across Greater Manchester.”

Professor Luke Georghiou, Deputy President and Deputy Vice Chancellor, The University of Manchester, said: “This is another important step for Greater Manchester’s innovation ecosystem which is all about partnership. The University of Manchester will keep working to ensure that we are a globally- renowned hub for creating innovations that meet society’s greatest challenges.”

Indro Mukerjee, CEO of Innovate UK, said: “Innovate UK is building strong regional partnerships across the UK to support local innovation and commercialisation. The agreement with Greater Manchester is a good example of that and our commitment to levelling up the UK.

“I am pleased to be working closely with Mayor Andy Burnham, Cllr Bev Craig and Lou Cordwell to help deliver growth and productivity through innovation across Greater Manchester.”

This is another important step for Greater Manchester’s innovation ecosystem which is all about partnership. The University of Manchester will keep working to ensure that we are a globally- renowned hub for creating innovations that meet society’s greatest challenges.

Professor Luke Georghiou, Deputy President and Deputy Vice-Chancellor

Cllr Bev Craig, Leader of Manchester City Council and GMCA Portfolio Lead for Economy and Business, said: “Our agreement with Innovate UK will help businesses and residents in Greater Manchester benefit from the opportunities presented by innovation.

“Business innovation creates good jobs in more places. It drives economic growth, accelerates our transition to net zero, and helps reduce health inequalities. We look forward to working with Innovate UK to strengthen Greater Manchester’s innovation ecosystem.”

Professor Richard Jones, Vice-President for Regional Innovation and Civic Engagement, at The University of Manchester (and independent science advisor for Innovation GM), said: “The partnership will provide an innovation blueprint for Greater Manchester – and therefore is a major milestone in boosting the economic development and prosperity of this city-region.

“The University of Manchester has been a driving force in getting this project launched so it was fitting that the agreement was formally signed in the University’s Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre. This facility demonstrates how new science and innovation can be commercialised, so attracting new investment; supporting some of this region’s great innovative businesses; as well as creating new commercial opportunities on our own doorstep.”     

Through Innovation Greater Manchester, the city-region is pioneering a new approach to strengthening and broadening its innovation ecosystem – the network that comprises businesses of all sizes, universities, local and national government, funding providers and investors, and entrepreneurs.

Greater Manchester’s Innovation Plan outlines how sustainable growth powered by innovation could deliver a £3.8bn economic benefit and over 100,000 jobs across Greater Manchester.

Greater Manchester was one of three areas in the country chosen to develop an Innovation Accelerator. Launched as part of the Levelling Up White Paper, Innovation Accelerators will support businesses and research in Greater Manchester, the West Midlands and Glasgow city-region with a share of £100m of Government funding.

This followed the UK Innovation Strategy, published in July last year, which set out Government’s vision to make the UK a global hub for innovation by 2035, and Innovate UK’s plan for action, Building the future economy.

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