Manchester leads way again at the forefront of innovation

  • 28/09/2015

Science and technology are at the heart of the continued prosperity of Greater Manchester and the UK

Manchester is described by some as the world’s first scientific city. This owes much to the ground-breaking innovations that have come from the city throughout successive centuries.

The catalyst for much of this evolution was the development of automated weaving machinery which kick-started the worldwide Industrial Revolution.

And this pioneering spirit subsequently manifested itself most obviously among Manchester’s scientific and technological community.

From Dalton, whose work resulted in the development of modern atomic theory, to Joule, whose work resulted in the first law of thermodynamics, as well as Rutherford, who became known as the father of nuclear physics – some of the most important scientific breakthroughs have unfolded across this city.

Today, Greater Manchester’s universities are universally acknowledged to lead Britain – and the world – in a diverse range of research fields that include oncology, dentistry, physics, chemistry and pre-clinical and human biological sciences as well as low carbon energy.

Most recently, in 2010, Manchester University academics Sir Andre Geim and Sir Konstantin Novoselov received the Nobel Prize for Physics for their work creating graphene.

This revolutionary development is acknowledged to have created the world’s thinnest, strongest and most conductive material.

What’s more, all the indications are that 2016 will prove momentous for Manchester once again.

The title of European City of Science is coming to Britain for the first time – and Manchester will be its destination.

The event will take the shape of a year-long celebration of science and innovation – the highlight being the EuroScience Open Forum 2016, Europe’s largest multi-disciplinary science meeting, between July 23 and July 27, which features a festival of science open to all.

Brian Cox, professor of particle physics in the School of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Manchester and BBC TV star, is unequivocal about both the event’s importance and the importance of the event’s location.

He said: “Manchester becoming European City of Science is extremely important. Why? Because our civilisation is based on science. It is a force for extreme good in society, in education and also economically.

“Manchester in some sense was the very first scientific city – it was where the industrial world began.

“To see cutting edge science and innovation return to the city’s beating heart seems to me to be very fitting.

“Over the next year, the people of Manchester and, in fact, those across the whole of the north west will have a unique opportunity to wander through the greatest scientific ideas of our time.

“With hundreds of events taking place as part of this unique celebration of science, I hope that everyone will be curious, playful and to seek out the remarkable – by getting involved in the European City of Science.

“Most importantly of all, I think, will be the opportunity for young people to see up close those scientific innovators at the very forefront of discovery who are changing our world for the better.

“I am convinced what that this will do is encourage a lot of them – and in my dream world, all of them – to decide that they want to know more about science and perhaps go on to study science and become researchers themselves.”

Salford-based ENER-G designs, manufactures, finances and operates renewable and energy efficient power generation and energy management schemes, applying advanced technology to assist the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and help organisations cut costs.

The company, which specialises in combined heat and power (CHP), was one of Manchester’s first spin-out companies more than 30 years ago.

a multi-million pound business that has operations across the globe.

Chris Marsland, technical director for ENER-G Combined Power, said: “ENER-G is a great example of a large global technology business with a heritage as a tiny university spin-out company.

“We owe our original success to the research and development capabilities of the University of Manchester, then UMIST. We have progressed to employ more than 750 people globally and export our Salford-made technologies all over the globe.

“That’s a perfect illustration of why it’s so important to continue to invest in science and technology businesses and create the technologies and economic success stories of tomorrow.

“One of the great advantages of being based in Greater Manchester is the tradition of engineering and manufacturing. There is a wealth of experience and talent in people who have core technical skills that they can apply to newer growth industries.

“There’s also, of course, the new talent coming out of our universities.”

Manchester Science Partnerships (MSP) is a community of scientists, innovators, investors and entrepreneurs, catalysing the growth of innovative science and technology businesses.

It was developed to provide the right environments and connections for new ideas to flourish and concepts to be commercial reality.

As the UK’s largest science park operator with five sites across Greater Manchester – including Alderley Park, Citylabs, Central Campus, MedTech, Salford Innovation Park and MIIC Incubator – it supports the growth of companies across the life sciences, ICT, industrial technology, advanced engineering and digital creative sectors, accommodating everything from small start-ups to European HQs.

MSP’s chief executive Rowena Burns said: “The science and technology sector is crucial to the ongoing success not only of Greater Manchester and the north west but also the UK as well as the global economy.

“MSP companies have continued to flourish throughout the recession – they’ve continued to invest in research and development and increase employment. These are high-value, knowledge-rich jobs.

“I think that it’s the scale of what’s present here in Greater Manchester when it comes to the sector that’s so significant – it really does have no parallel in other major cities.

“And the habit of partnership that is also prevalent, particularly the concord that exists between the civic authorities and those businesses that are based here, will prove another major reason for the sector’s ongoing success.”

As the city celebrates the launch of Manchester as the European Capital of Science 2016, the ProManchester Science and Technology sector group is hosting a science-focused event.

The breakfast meeting will aim to spark conversations and drive the right level of support between professional services and the science and technology sector. An expert panel will discuss tactics for growth, access to finance and skills development.

The event is at the Museum of Science and Industry’s main museum building in Castlefield on Tuesday, October 27, from 8am and 10am.

Thanks to the Manchester Evening News