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To celebrate the vitality of the manufacturing sector in Greater Manchester, the GM Business Growth Hub proudly hosted the collaborative event “Manufacturing Our Future” on 23rd May 2024 at Oldham Athletic Football Club. This remarkable event brought together hundreds of attendees from manufacturing businesses, business support providers, universities, and public authorities all united by a common goal— tackling shared manufacturing challenges and seizing business opportunities together. 

Your Business is Our Business 

At the heart of the event was a panel discussion led by Anne Campion, Head of Manufacturing at the GM Business Growth Hub. Anne shared inspiring success stories of businesses that have thrived with our comprehensive, fully funded support. Her words, ‘Your business is our business ‘, underscored our commitment to understanding and addressing the unique challenges that keep businesses awake at night. 



Neil Eccles, Head of Innovation of Rochdale Development Agency, also joined the panel discussion and highlighted the North-South divide in Greater Manchester. He emphasised Mayor Andy Burnham’s vision to bridge this gap through ‘Atom Valley’, an ambitious project aimed at creating a well-connected innovation cluster. “This initiative will bring world-class research, manufacturing and materials together to shape the future and level up communities in Bury, Oldham and Rochdale.” 

A platform for in-depth discussion on shared concerns 

The event featured a series of breakout sessions and workshops, providing a platform for in-depth discussions on crucial manufacturing topics among Greater Manchester’s manufacturers. One such workshop, led by Ian Dixon, Access to Finance Specialist in the Hub, shed light on the evolving fundraising landscape. It was revealed that businesses now opt for multiple funding sources, a stark contrast to the pre-financial crisis era, influenced by factors like time scale and nature of funding.

“While the changes in the fundraising landscape have opened up more funding sources for manufacturers, they have also introduced complexities. Many manufacturing firms now require a dedicated finance advisor. The GM Business Growth Hub stands ready to assist these businesses, offering professional and impartial advice, and connecting them with suitable funders and investors to fuel their growth.” Ian Dixon explained. 



An environment for networking and collaboration

An exhibition was held alongside the event, where over 30 manufacturers showcased their innovative solutions, capabilities and products, ranging from rotational moulding toolmaking to bespoke printed flexible packaging solutions. This created a fantastic environment for networking and fostering business collaboration.  



During the panel Q&A session in the exhibition zone, multiple manufacturers shared common concerns about automation’s role in workforce development. They emphasised that while today’s manufacturing process is highly automated and involves extensive robotic technology, people on the shop floor are concerned with their job security. However, enhanced efficiency and cost reductions have enabled growth and expansion of their workforce.  

In addition, the panellists noted the increasing average age of skilled labour, which has led to a demand for younger talent in the manufacturing sector. Through specialised apprenticeship programmes, they’ve successfully attracted and retained the younger generation in their workforce. 



Join hands and build for tomorrow 

One of the attendees and exhibitors, Claire Watson, Director of Airmatic, a business in Bury offering high-spec ductwork systems, praised the event: “The support of GM Business Growth Hub is essential for our company’s business development. With their support, we have formulated our three-year development plan with specific targets and achieved 20% year-on-year growth in three consecutive years.” 



“It’s absolutely fantastic to be here in Oldham celebrating the manufacturing sector across Greater Manchester,” said Anne Campion. “We had more than 140 manufacturers attended, and the exhibition provided clients the opportunity to showcase their products and achievements, connect with others for business or collaboration, and be proud of everything they’ve accomplished in the manufacturing sector.” 

Janine Smith, Director of GM Business Growth Hub, concluded, “Manufacturing will continue to be the driving force behind the economic development of Greater Manchester and the nation. With a team of knowledgeable experts who are passionate about manufacturing, we are here to support the sector’s transformation to advanced manufacturing with high degrees of automation and robotic technology. It is time for us to join hands and manufacture our future.” 





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