CDI Launch

Green energy and digital technology SME innovation support part of £100m government programme

Manchester Met helping sustainable economic growth and region’s Net Zero goals

Cutting-edge green energy and digital technology innovations that can help spur sustainable economic growth will be developed through Manchester Met thanks to a new business support programme.

As part of the nationwide £100m Government Innovation Accelerators funding, the University will lead two consortiums to deliver initiatives for Greater Manchester’s small and medium-sized (SME) enterprises.

They will support innovation in electrochemical hydrogen, artificial intelligence, cyber security, industrial digitalisation and immersive technology.

SMEs will be able to access the expert knowledge, research and facilities at the University – and across the consortia – to develop new products and technologies, create new supply chains, build collaborations and to train their staff.

Both projects will draw on expertise from a range of partners, resulting in new investment alongside job and skills creation, while accelerating economic growth and tackling the sustainability and digital challenges of the future.

Through Manchester Met’s Centre for Enterprise, two new projects will be delivered:

  • Greater Manchester Electrochemical Hydrogen Cluster: building on the work of the University’s Manchester Fuel Cell Innovation Centre to accelerate the development and adoption of clean and efficient electrochemical hydrogen technologies. It will focus on the supply chains for electrochemical hydrogen technologies, helping to support the city’s ambition to become Net Zero through the investment in research and development of advancing electrochemical and hydrogen technologies. It will become an innovation cluster, taking a collaborative approach to provide the facilities, expertise and investment needed.
  • Centre for Digital Innovation (CDI) will be across four technology strands: artificial intelligence, cyber security, industrial digitalisation and immersive technology on research and development, skills development, business models for SMEs, and community outreach. CDI is a consortium of universities, further education colleges and industry partners. It will create a supercluster of digital innovation, expertise and skills development for the region to become a beacon in the UK for digital innovation. CDI will provide access to facilities and collaborations to create new capabilities in technologies to build digital skills for North West SMEs.

Mandy Parkinson, Director of the Centre for Enterprise at Manchester Metropolitan and project lead, said: “At Manchester Met, we are at the forefront of developing new green technologies through our Manchester Fuel Cell Innovation Centre, helping the region to reach its Net Zero ambitions and to move to a more sustainable future.

“Across our consortia, we are also helping to tackle the digital skills gap, providing the research and training to drive forward innovation in the sector with our School of Digital ArtsDepartment of Computing and Mathematics and 3D printing hub PrintCity.

“With these two new projects we’ll be providing SMEs with the tools, expertise and support to innovate, ensuring the region remains at the cutting-edge of development in sustainable and digital technologies. Our SMEs will be able to thrive and grow, creating new jobs while attracting investment into Greater Manchester.”

Regional partnerships

Innovation Accelerators is a £100m pilot programme being shared across three regions – of which Greater Manchester is one – and has been allocated using a ‘locally-led’ approach.

Partnerships of local government, business and research and development institutions in the three city regions selected 26 transformative research and development projects, working closely with Innovate UK. The projects will address local, national and global societal and environmental challenges.

Ten Greater Manchester projects have been awarded funding by the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT), which has been allocated to innovative projects in sectors where the region has existing research strengths.

As part of the programme, the Innovation Greater Manchester board, a business-led partnership that brings together the private sector, universities and local government, has worked with Innovate UK and DSIT to select projects and co-design an Innovation Plan to effectively target research and development funding for the benefit of the local economy and communities.

Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, said: “Greater Manchester’s selection as one of three Innovation Accelerator regions demonstrates the Government’s confidence in our innovation ecosystem. The projects being backed are undertaking world-leading research to address some of the biggest challenges we face.

“They also align with the sectors where Greater Manchester has emerging or established strengths, like advanced materials, artificial intelligence and diagnostics. We look forward to working with partners to ensure this funding supports the growth of our future industries and delivers greater prosperity for our people.”

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