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Greater Manchester’s Innovation Eco-system

From world-leading universities and specialist organisations, there are abundant resources in Greater Manchester to support your business with its commercialisation journey. We can help you access this leading knowledge, facilities and equipment.


You only need to look along the Oxford Road Corridor or go to the Salford Innovation Triangle to get a feel for the internationally recognised R&D organisations, highly skilled people, global companies and innovative SMEs that call Greater Manchester home.

This interconnected mix of business, academia, public sector, and professional and local networks together make up the city-region’s innovation eco-system.

Many SMEs are unaware that they can tap into this wealth of assets on their doorstep, and the multiple benefits of doing so, including:

  • Accessing expertise, technology and testing facilities
  • Collaborating to address challenges
  • Creating new commercial opportunities
  • Unlocking funding and investment
  • Networking and sharing knowledge
  • Attracting talent
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The benefits of collaboration

Not having the right knowledge, skills or facilities can really hold back your business. Accessing specialist knowhow in organisations outside of your own supplier base can be transformational in helping you address your challenges.

And while innovative ideas can be generated from within a business – encouraging creativity and problem-solving amongst colleagues has great benefits – they often come as a result of collaborating with partners who possess a different set of skills.

Equally, there are large companies out there looking for your expertise who are ready to be connected.

Universities and other research & technology organisations

Greater Manchester’s universities and other research institutions have a strong track record of working with industry to share knowledge and develop commercial products.

Strategic collaborations can provide a myriad of benefits in supporting companies to bring new or improved products and services to market. They can help your idea to gain momentum, accelerate R&D, shorten your time to market, and clarify the impact of future technological change.

We’ll help you to articulate your business challenge into a technical brief, and get it to the relevant subject matter experts across a wide range of research organisations.

Addressing technical challenges with short or long-term solutions

See how Rochdale’s GJD Manufacturing increased its revenue thanks to its collaboration with Manchester Metropolitan University

Accessing research or testing that provides tangible outcomes

Manchester start-up QV Bioelectronics accelerated their progress and growth thanks to R&D support

Transferring knowledge, data and expertise into your business

Being able to access university testing facilities was a gamechanger for Trafford manufacturer M&I Materials

Unlocking innovation funding

Discover how Innovation Vouchers helped Oldham-based Future Safety start to collaborate with Manchester Metropolitan University

Large companies

There are opportunities across all sectors for SMEs to partner with larger companies to overcome specific challenges. With bigger firms looking to harness the agility and specialisms of smaller businesses, who themselves are able to benefit from access to new revenue streams, such relationships can be win-win.

Our position at the centre of Greater Manchester’s innovation eco-system enables us to connect parties, and help transform concepts and ideas into real change and commercial opportunities.

We work closely with our sister organisation MIDAS, Manchester’s inward investment agency, to identify opportunities for mutually beneficial large firm-small firm collaborations.

One example is that of smart waste software provider Dsposal, an SME based in Manchester, which successfully partnered with Chiesi to help the global pharmaceutical giant tackle its green sustainability agenda.

The Italian company, which employs around 400 people at its Heald Green premises, wanted to find a solution to inhalers being disposed in landfill, with no recycling opportunities. Leveraging Dsposal’s vast knowledge and experience of waste management software and supply chains, the project team developed behaviour change campaigns which led to a new pilot scheme.

Dsposal said the opportunity “laid the foundations for our successful Innovate UK bid and opened our eyes to a whole new revenue stream; it’s been brilliant”, while Chiesi said that “our relationship with Dsposal has been an extremely positive experience.” (Read more: A challenge shared is a problem solved).


The innovation eco-system’s networks can add value and give access to high profile investors, high net worth individuals and public sector funders.

However, there are numerous networks out there, and it can be difficult to identify and engage with the right organisation at the right time. Let us help cut out the legwork for you.


Call us on 0161 359 3050, email or use this contact form. Most of our services are available at no cost to businesses, thanks to the backing of our funders.

Greater Manchester’s innovation assets

We’re blessed in Greater Manchester, in that there are huge amounts of specialist support available to businesses. Listed in the table below are more than 30 leading organisations and facilities that work with small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

Our innovation specialists are on hand to identify the right partners for your business, help shape your collaboration project, and source funding – think of us as the glue that connects and makes business-university relationships work effectively.



Advanced Materials and Advanced Manufacturing


Digital and Creative


Health Innovation and Life Sciences


Net Zero

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Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTPs) and Management KTPs (mKTPs)

Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTPs) are a great way of getting the talent, expertise and technology you need to take your innovative idea forward, when you don’t have the necessary skills or resources in-house.

They enable small and medium-sized businesses in Greater Manchester to collaborate with the city-region’s leading universities, and research and technology organisations, and access specialist resources plus a dedicated team to deliver a strategic project.

Management KTPs (mKTPs) function similarly to regular KTPs, but have a specific focus on increasing effectiveness and improving results through better management practices.

Grant funding of 67% of the cost is available for SMEs, and our experienced Innovation Specialists can walk you through the application process, giving you the best chance of being successful.

KTP case studies: Anderton Board & PackagingGJD Manufacturing

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