First blog of 2012 so Happy New Year! 2011 was a pretty grim year and there is nothing to suggest that 2012 will be any easier, but Manchester (and its Council) came out of 2011 in far better shape than anyone might have expected and that's the task for the coming year - to do our best to ensure that Manchester and its people thrive, whatever is thrown at us. Of course, building a thriving city does need some long-term thinking and some innovative thinking.
This morning I'm at the Manchester Innovation Group, now a working group of the Greater Manchester Local Enterprise Partnership ( LEP ) providing input on policy and initiatives to stimulate growth in the knowledge economy and improve Greater Manchester's capacity for innovation. Two very different presentations this morning. One, under the working title Lab:Manchester, talked about how we can join up, extend and add value to the varied work that is already taking place in a number of sectors trialling new ideas, new methodologies, new products. The approach centred around multi-network innovation and what it described as deploying to learn. The other was concerned with developing social innovation and social enterprise. Some interesting stats in this. In comparison to "mainstream" SMEs, social enterprises account for three times the proportion of start-ups, employ more people relative to turnover, are more likely to work in economically deprived areas, and in 2010 58% of them grew in comparison to 28% of other SMEs. Social Innovation is also something that could help find solutions to some of our most deep-seated societal problems, and create jobs at the same time. Two very different approaches but both with something to offer to Manchester's future.