Giving tech start ups the support they need

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Posted in:Science and Tech|October 26, 2015 | Join the mailing list

Autumn always seems to go in a flash, heralding the onset of winter and, before you know it, a New Year. For Greater Manchester’s science and technology sector, let’s hope things don’t go too fast, as we want to savour the build-up to 2016, when we will
proudly be the European City of Science.

Instead, let’s use the coming months as a time to reflect and to prepare. To reflect on the success of operations in areas such as Daresbury, our Universities, the National Graphene Institute, and to prepare for what comes next.

Because science and technology is all about ‘next’, as our region’s successful technology website coined it, ‘The Next Web’. And believe it or not, it can be difficult to enter the sector as a new start-up without the advice and
assistance from those that have come before, and achieving the full potential of a new business idea or growth in an established business is made so much easier with that support.

London has focussed its efforts on creating its own “Silicon Valley” and it is now reaping the benefits of that focus – particularly in the FinTech sector.  Manchester and the North need to recognise that success in this space
will not just arrive, it will be hard won.  We already have some amazing success stories in the region but do we all know about those successes, and are we telling others?  Have the stories made their way down to London or across to California?  If not, why

What can we do in the business and professional community to raise awareness and help build the regions reputation in this space, so that it actually reflects what’s been happening on the ground, our fantastic achievements to date,
and starts to map out the future and what it might look like.  In this way, the world will sit up and take notice, and the interest and investment needed to deliver that future will be made available. 

The role of groups such as Pro Manchester is important in sharing expertise, and contacts. But so is the imagination of financiers, from established banks who need to look outside London for an imaginative investment, to alternative
finance – of which, we have some world leading pioneers on our doorstep.

I urge 2016 to be the year the professional services sector pledges to think ‘next’ and to work together to offer the financial advice and solutions to make tomorrow’s dreams become today’s reality.

This means law firms getting a strong handle around future-proofing Intellectual Property. It means urging tech entrepreneurs to think commercially at the start of their funding applications, rather than seeing their applications
fail and becoming disheartened.

It means sharing contacts and access to the industry, because this is what is happening in London and globally, and we can’t afford to fight amongst ourselves. When the opportunity is global, our local identity becomes a badge
of honour – a symbol of quality and innovation.

So before we reach 2016, let’s make it the autumn of financial innovation, and begin the New Year on the front foot, ready to take on the world.

I’ll be discussing how science and technology can work closely with professional services and how each can benefit from that relationship tomorrow as I chair the Pro Manchester ‘Sparking conversations to support the science and technology sector’ event at The
Museum of Science and Industry. I’m looking forward to meeting a variety of businesses from around the region and to hearing more about how we can work closer as part of the launch of Manchester as the European Capital of Science 2016.

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