Delegates from the first Greater Connected cohort

Delegates from the first Greater Connected cohort

Collaboration is key

The successful pilot of a programme helping digital companies in Greater Manchester work more collaboratively has led to a 12 month roll-out.

The Greater Connected programme, which is run by Business Growth Hub, is an intensive, high-growth scale-up programme aimed at the most dynamic creative, digital and tech SMEs. 

Supported by funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), Greater Connected has been devised to offer companies with high growth potential the chance to work together to tackle bigger picture issues within their own organisations. This approach is often a feature of accelerator programmes aimed at start-ups and early stage businesses.

It has also been found to help unlock opportunities and spark fresh thinking within more established companies looking to scale-up and grow quickly. However, it is rare for busy business leaders to get the opportunity to work with other entrepreneurs and discuss their objectives, priorities, challenges and growth plans in a facilitated, non-competitive environment.

This is what the Greater Connected programme set out to address when it was piloted last December. Due to its success, it will now be ramped up throughout 2017, with an additional six sessions planned throughout the coming year.

The first group of 18 Greater Manchester companies to road-test the programme included one of the UK’s leading app development firms Apadmi, digital marketing specialists theEword, sustainable computing pioneers Sunde Technologies, digital content providers Tunafish, coding training company Northcoders and Toast PR agency.

Katie Peate, head of creative, digital and tech at the Hub, part of Manchester Greater Connected, said: “Greater Manchester is enjoying a real boom within the digital and tech sectors currently, and we have hundreds of innovative, ambitious and growth hungry SMEs all working flat-out to secure success. But busy business leaders need to be able to step back from the coalface and take a longer-term view of their objectives, the wider commercial landscape, and their direction of travel.

“Peer-to-peer problem solving is one very effective way to change someone’s thinking, unlock new business opportunities and drive innovation, but entrepreneurs need a facilitated, focussed and collaborative environment to share ideas and insights.

“The Greater Connected programme has been designed to give SMEs the chance to take a more holistic view of what they do, where they are, and where they are going, and also stimulate constructive collaboration. Feedback from our first cohort suggests this approach has worked incredibly well, and we are extending the programme to other firms as a result.

“Our overall goal is to develop initiatives which will rapidly increase the levels of growth within the creative, digital and tech sectors in Greater Manchester, and create thousands of new jobs as a result. Supporting SMEs as they look to expand is key to this, which is why the success of a programme like Greater Connected is so important.”  

Feedback from all participating companies on the pilot was overwhelmingly positive, with many delegates reporting that the experience has made them rethink important aspects of their current business model and company culture.

Bash Ali, Managing Director of Sunde Technologies, said some new thinking inspired by the programme had now become a core part of his business strategy, adding that “Greater Connected has provided us with a deeper understanding of the dynamics of today’s modern business and crucially how we can apply these learnings to improve our own performance.”

For Nick Black, CEO and co-founder of Apadmi, Greater Connected delivered fantastic collaboration and shared learning opportunities which he described as being “good for the whole city” and which were “crucial for all of us to build our businesses.”

Greater Connected is a fully-funded programme meaning that qualifying businesses do not need to pay to take part.

Companies wishing to register their interest to take part in a future Greater Connected session can visit www.businessgrowthhub.com/greaterconnected