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GMColleges Awarded £2.5m to Expand Innovation across the Region

Written on 15th February 2024

We are delighted to announce that our nine General Further Education colleges across Greater Manchester have been collectively awarded £2.5m to increase innovation support to businesses throughout the city region.

The new project, the Greater Manchester Further Education Innovation Programme, which has been funded by Innovate UK through its Further Education Innovation Fund, aims to increase the role of Further Education Colleges in the expansion of  innovation support to improve productivity across Greater Manchester. 

Several new initiatives will be introduced via the project such as creating an Innovation Centre in each of the ten Boroughs in Greater Manchester. The centres will engage and support local employers to build their innovation journey and establish colleges as places where businesses can connect and collaborate.

‘Innovators in Residence’ will bring specialist expertise of the region’s frontier sectors – Advanced Materials & Manufacturing, Health Innovation and Life Sciences, Digital and Creative and Clean Growth into the colleges to inform the CPD of college staff and ensuring the training and support delivered in Colleges meets the current and future needs of businesses.

An event is being held later today (Thursday 15 February) to mark one year since Greater Manchester signed a landmark strategic partnership with Innovate UK to drive the development of the city-region’s innovation ecosystem.  

Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham and CEO of Innovate UK, Indro Mukerjee, and the Innovation Greater Manchester partnership will be joined by civic, academic and business leaders to celebrate and reflect on the developments over the past 12 months – including the Greater Manchester Further Education Innovation Programme.  

Anna Dawe, GMColleges Chair, explains, “This exciting project directly connects innovations in business with the technical education provision and students which will continue to support industry, all while responding to the demand for skills and our region’s productivity ambition.”

Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, said:

“This funding is a further boost for our ambitions to create the country’s first integrated technical education system. Innovation is key to making Greater Manchester a more prosperous place with a more productive economy, but we need to ensure its benefits are widely felt. This programme puts colleges and further education centres at the forefront of innovation, which is great news for students, businesses and our local economies.”

Coral Grainger, GM Further Education Innovation Programme Director, commented “In communities all across the country, Further Education forms the bedrock of the relationship between employers and education. As someone who started their own professional career with a HNC at a Manchester college, I’m proud to be leading this project that will establish new partnerships between FE and the wider innovation ecosystem.”