Cisco is to open an innovation centre in Manchester focusing on the development of smart cities, the Internet of Things (IoT) and healthcare and creative digital technologies.
The centre will be set up with the Manchester Science Partnerships (MSP) made up from the city’s two main universities and nearby councils, and private company Bruntwood Ltd. The centre derives its name, the Mi-IDEA (Manchester Inspired-Innovation Digital Enterprise Alliance) from the partnership.
Mi-IDEA will set up a joint venture with early-stage companies in the north of England to fuel the creation of new technology products and services.
It will offer companies a tailored programme to help continue their growth and development once they have finished the accelerator period.
Mi-IDEA will be located in the heart of Manchester at No. 1 MSP Central, MSP’s latest 70,000 sq ft development. It will also act at the second site for Cisco's Create research programme in London to develop innovative technology that tackles real challenges in partnership with technology companies, research institutions, government and universities.
Phil Smith, chief executive at Cisco UK and Ireland, described Manchester as a good location for Cisco’s latest innovation centre, as well as a way to expand the scope of Cisco’s National Virtual Incubator (NVI). This uses video conferencing to link incubators, research hubs and academic centres with businesses across the UK and Ireland.
“Manchester has innovation in its DNA. Our investment in the city builds on our ongoing commitment to support new digital businesses and high-tech entrepreneurs across the UK,” he said.
“Mi-IDEA will be uniquely positioned to tap into local, national and international innovation ecosystems. It will benefit from MSP’s existing partnerships across the region and be a key part of the NVI.”
Setting up an innovation centre in Manchester highlights the growth of the North’s technology industry, and how it can attract interest from major companies normally used to investing in London. Cisco, for instance, already has its Idea London incubator in the capital.
This could go someway to curtailing the appeal of London over other areas of the UK when it comes to attracting talent and digital skills.
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