What you can learn from Manchester's new innovation center

Wed, 2016-06-15 06:09 -- Doug Peeples

We often encourage cities to take a collaborative approach to their smart city projects and upgrades. The abbreviated news release below details Council Lead Partner Cisco's partnership with the UK's largest science park operator, Manchester Science Park, to open a new innovation center at its largest campus. The point? To steer start-ups (and established tech companies) toward finding solutions to a variety of challenges, including smart cities, as previously launched Cisco partnerships in the UK are doing.

Collaboration is a big part of Cisco's overall strategy in the UK. Could you do something similar in your city — such as enlisting partners from local colleges and universities and private sector technology experts? Remember... smart city technologies can make your city attractive to the talented professionals and companies that want to be a part of the digital technology innovation wave. One way to start would be to establish an innovation task force which could, among other things, reach out to companies that might be interested in collaborating on an innovation center. Provide a welcoming, supportive environment and your city is likely to see more job opportunities and a stronger, more sustainable economy. — Doug Peeples

Cisco and MSP to open Mi-IDEA innovation centre in Manchester

The partnership between Cisco and Manchester Science Partnerships will accelerate digital innovation in the North of England

London, 13 June 2016 – Cisco and Manchester Science Partnerships (MSP) today announced that they are opening the Mi-IDEA (Manchester Inspired – Innovation Digital Enterprise Alliance) innovation centre on MSP’s central campus. The centre will support the growth of key innovation clusters in the North of England, and furthers Cisco’s commitment to supporting British innovation, digitisation and the UK business economy as a whole.

Mi-IDEA, a joint venture with MSP, will work with early-stage companies in the North to develop innovative technologies and solutions. The partnership will focus on the areas of smart cities, Internet of Things (IoT), digital healthcare and the digital creative sector. In addition, the centre will offer post-accelerator and established technology companies a tailored programme to help develop confidence and capabilities as they scale.

Located in MSP’s newest 70,000 sq ft development, No. 1 MSP Central, in the heart of Manchester’s thriving innovation district, Mi-IDEA will also function as a second site in the UK for Cisco CREATE. Cisco CREATE is a collaborative research function which works with industry partners, start-ups, government, research institutions and universities. It aims to find innovative, technology-based solutions to some of the most pressing real world challenges of today.

In addition, Mi-IDEA will strengthen the North’s representation in Cisco’s National Virtual Incubator (NVI). Established in 2012, the NVI is a network of leading incubation centres, research facilities, science parks and academic institutes across the UK, that regularly collaborate in a variety of ways using video collaboration technologies, and will allow businesses across the UK and Ireland to benefit from collaboration with Manchester’s technology innovators.

With collaboration at its core, the centre will be a digital living lab, showcasing the very latest in Cisco technology alongside the innovations of the companies in residence. It will provide an inspiring environment where public, academic and private sectors can work together to transform their industries.

Phil Smith, Chief Executive, Cisco UK & Ireland, said: “The city of Manchester has innovation in its DNA. Our investment in the city builds on our ongoing commitment to support new digital businesses and high-tech entrepreneurs across the UK. Mi-IDEA will be uniquely positioned to tap into local, national and international innovation ecosystems. It will benefit from MSP’s existing partnerships across the region and be a key part of the NVI. Coupled with Cisco’s successes at IDEALondon and Cisco CREATE, we’re confident that Mi-IDEA will deliver a unique environment in which tech companies in Manchester can grow.”

Anne Dornan, Head of Innovation at Manchester Science Partnerships said: “Mi-IDEA is a reflection of our long-term commitment to growing the digital technology sector in the region and the culmination of our partnership work with Cisco since the National Virtual Incubator was launched in 2012. In high growth sectors it's vital to provide targeted and specialist support programmes with access to global supply chains in order to unlock the potential economic impact for the UK. Bringing together diverse partners from across public, private and academic sectors to drive innovation and economic growth is at the heart of MSP and a hugely rewarding endeavour. We are excited to see this project come to fruition.”

From the Smart Cities Readiness Guide…
For more guidance and insights on turning your city's smart city planning into a successful implementation strategy, take a look at the Ideas to Action chapter in the Smart Cities Readiness Guide. It has more to say about attracting the talented professionals and job-generating businesses that can help your economy grow.

Doug Peeples is a Portland, Oregon-based writer specializing in technology and energy. Follow @smartccouncil on Twitter.