Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

There is some serious talent  on the streets and in the bedrooms of Manchester.  Young people with the kind of creativity we would give our right arm for, Manchester’s future is in their hands.

A teacher I met at the BBC 21st Century Classroom in Salford, told me about his 15 year old student (let’s call him John) who made £5 here, £10 there, by designing My Space pages for his friends. The teacher was frustrated at not having the ability to help John take his digital talent to the next level, nor access to appropriate business start up advice for this teen entrepreneur. When asked what he would do after his GCSE’s, John told the teacher that he’d follow into his father’s shopfitting business, he didn’t consider college, work in the creative sector, or starting his own business as possible options.

To be clear, I am in no way critical of John’s choice. Good design is needed in the physical world as well as the digital (if not more so!).  However,  I do think the story raises the question of how we best nurture young talent, both in and outside schools.

I like the idea of business advisors having surgeries in schools and youth clubs, helping young people to think about markets for their ideas, before they get squelched by the ‘real world’.  I’d love to hear of any case studies where this works (or doesn’t).

We’re lucky to live in a city like Manchester, where projects and partners are aiming to resolve  some of these issues.  Robots have been built at the  MADLAB,  and last year Innovation Manchester and the Manchester Innovation Investment Fund supported Creative Open Access – growing the inner geek in some of Manchester’s brightest young people.

Now a new course, also to be held at Cornerhouse, will not only nurture creativity in 18-24 year olds, but also introduce the skills to progress a career in the creative industries

At the core of the scheme, the kids at the App School will develop their ideas for an iPhone ‘app’, and they’ll work on those ideas throughout the programme. In addition, they’ll get training on things such as project management, team-working, presenting their work, and business & financial management. At the very end of the scheme, they’ll be pitching their ideas through to a panel of some of the city’s best creative companies – who, if they like what they see, will be able to offer them internships. If the ideas are good, the companies will actually create the ‘app’ as a joint venture.

If you know of any young people in Manchester, please help spread the word!

The course is being run by The White Room, in partnership with Manchester City Council, MMU, and Cornerhouse, and applications close next Sunday, 21st February.


Take a look at this video care of Ideas Project

“I don’t think we’ve even scratched the surface yet of understanding how to leverage the power of these social dynamics, but I think a key to unlocking the potential is going to be through developing better tools to visualize our human capital, which would be a combination of our strengths, our skills, and our social connections.”

When Guinness decided that they wanted to expand their market into Europe,they saw Germany as the biggest growth area.After all the Germans are the biggest beer drinkers on the continent so why wouldn’t they drink the black velvet?

Well they didn’t and Guinness ended up with less than 1 per cent of the market.The reason-well Germans prefer light beers and have an affinity to local breweries.

If one message came out of last night’s  Managing Growth – Tech Entrepreneur Series held in Manchester,it was that to successfully grow a business,listen to what your customer wants,and understand who your customers are

Speaking were Chris Allen,instrumental in the founding of back before the first dot com crash and Steve  Purdham who co-founded Surf Control, a global provider of internet filtering software and is now one of the names behind free online music service teaming up with Genesis front-man Peter Gabriel.

Both gave some of the secrets of their success to an assembled audience of entrepreneurs and funders last night.

Chris has worked for 40 years in what he described as the second oldest profession in the world,hotels.Working withinPremium Inns,he tore up the business model of selling rooms,decided that customers wanted something a little more special than their own bedrooms.

Instead he offered them such innovations as the trouser press and satellite television.

It is a pressure business he said because it is a commodity you can only sell once.

After leaving the business he set up and again tried to tear up the business model by offering hotels a direct fee model instead of the more traditional percentage cut.When this failed to take off he decided to differentiate by giving his customers more choice and a personal level of service,often manning the call centre himself to find out exactly what they wanted.

What the customer wants according to Steve Purdham is free music.At WE7,they have created an environment that customers like,you get a free song and you get an advert to pay for it.

A simple model says Steve,publicised not by advertising and PR but by word of mouth.”If you like it you will tell your friends”.

For both entrepreneurs people are at the heart of any growth model.According to Steve,the biggest restrictor of growth is the person in charge wanting to keep control and not delegate.You must have the courage to move people on if they are in the wrong slot and create gaps to bring new people in.

For Chris,a good entrepreneur needs good people around.These people will grow with the company.

The proof is in the pudding and both men have successfully sold their businesses on for a considerable premium.

For Chris his company was sold in 2007 to First Choice for £120 million in 2007, two years after a MBO.For Steve his Surf control company was sold to US rival Websense in 2007 for £201 million in 2007.Now We7 vies for the free music market along with its better known rival Spotify.


Manchester has been invaded by robots recently but check out this video of ROPID the walking, running, and jumping robot.

Ht-Braden Kelly


If conversation is key to innovation, then events like BarCamp play an important role in our Innovation Ecosystem.

Innovation Manchester members may be interested to know that on Saturday 7 and Sunday 8th November, a BarCamp will be held at the Contact Theatre.

BarCamp Manchester 2 is an open, free-to-attend, participatory 2-day unconference. Unconferences differ from normal conferences in that the schedule is created and filled by the attendees with everyone running a session or talk about whatever subject they have a passion for. From Cocktail Making to Programming for Beginners, from Arduino Hacking to Photography, BarCamps attract people from all sorts of backgrounds, each sharing their expertise and experiences.

BarCamp attendees come from all walks of life and ages 8-80; what they have in common is a passion for stimulating conversations and expanding their own knowledge. They love to give back to the community and a BarCamp is the perfect place to do this.

BarCamp attendees are not only the great thinkers of today, but the great thinkers of tomorrow. They are excited by the diversity of discussions and insights that are achieved in the intellectual melting pot that is BarCamp.

Additionally, if you know anyone who might like to sponsor the event, you can get in touch with the organisers through us here at Innovation Manchester. Sponsorship options range from £100 upwards, or provision of food, drinks, t-shirts etc. Options are very flexible!

Thanks for reading – please feel free to add to this discussion and tell us what you would talk about, or like to hear at an Unconference. Please feed back your experience (& photo’s) of the event, or even better, your talk there! Enjoy!

An exciting and varied debate about the future, at the Manchester CoMixed discussion.

A series of provocations on the scientific challenges of our time including Climate Change, Digital Economy, Ageing, Food Security and Nanotechnology. Thoughts are remixed into a cooperative production by the Manchester Beacon’s network of people, places and knowledge.

Panellists include:

  • Warren Bramley (Creative Director at Four23)
  • Dr. Martyn Amos (Principle Investigator on Nano-Info-Bio, Manchester Metropolitan University)
  • Professor Remco Polman (Director of Centre for Applied Sport and Exercise Sciences, Principal Investigator Medical Research Council Lifelong Health and Wellbeing Grant)
  • Professor Callum Thomas (Professor of Sustainable Aviation, Centre for Air Transport and the Environment, OMEGA, Manchester Metropolitan University
  • Professor John Whittle (Professor of Software Engineering, Lancaster Business School)
  • Kate Bailey (Senior Research Associate, Cardiff Business School)

John Whittle is currently talking about a vision of the future where we can see into peoples minds, and understand what makes them tick. A previous ‘twitter sceptic’, John now sees twitter as an early indicator of future technology that will increase mutual understanding and relationships in society.

My favourite quote so far is from Martin Amos, and his assertion that “Bio-Hacking already happens in people’s kitchens”.

Sent from my BlackBerry Wireless Handheld

Here at Innovation Manchester we are looking forward to this year’s Manchester Science Festival.

Taking place from the 24th Oct to Nov 1st,it is the third time that the city has staged the event.

We are one of the festival’s partners and as part of the Walking With Robots series,Mon 26th  October sees the Robotics networking event.

This is for professionals working in the field of robotics and adjacent disciplines (science communication, design, programming, engineering, software, etc)

The event is by prior invite only.if you want to attend contact

It kicks off at 6.00 pm at MDDA

Innovation Manchester

Innovation Manchester is a dynamic and diverse network of innovators and entrepreneurs, working together to make Manchester a better place to do business. We’re making Manchester a global innovation leader by creating: - new connections - new business opportunities - radical city-wide solutions Be part of the innovation conversation - all you need is enthusiasm and original thinking.

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