The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting all areas of life in many and substantial ways, at Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) we have been really proud of the way the digital sector has come together to help improve people’s lives across our city-region.
The Greater Manchester spirit and the strength of the digital ecosystem have never been more evident, we have seen individuals volunteering their time to support our most vulnerable residents to get online preventing them from becoming digitally exclusion and others offering their services for free to support individuals and the business community. Reason Digital a Manchester based digital agency are one of these organisations, volunteering their time to develop a new website for the Greater Manchester Memorial Book which was set up to remember the lives lost to the COVID-19 pandemic.
This pandemic has also catapulted digital innovation and transformation projects in our region, with new funding opportunities, digital hubs, training opportunities and programmes appearing each week. This has included the launch of the new GCHQ Innovation Co-Lab set up to support businesses to take their products or services to a new level and the launch of the Greater Manchester Technology Fund.
In April, we launched the Greater Manchester Technology Fund, to support the most vulnerable young people across the region. The fund provides schools and colleges with the technology needed for their students at risk of digital exclusion to continue their learning at home.
These new opportunities being developed across the Greater Manchester ecosystem are creating new opportunities for individuals and businesses alike.
In Greater Manchester we are encouraging and supporting businesses to start, grow and move here, recognising the importance of the continued expansion of our digital, creative and tech sector and the opportunities this brings for our people.
At the beginning of 2020 we launched the Greater Manchester Digital Blueprint which sets out our three-year ambition for our city region. One of our key ambitions as part of the blueprint is to develop Greater Manchester as both a UK and European centre for cyber and digital ethics, trust and security. We want to be considered the most secure place to work and grow online.
Recently we have seen rapid development in the cyber security offer in Greater Manchester. COVID-19 has brought with it a significant increase in cybercrime and a cyber-security risk for businesses and there are now a number of support options available including the GM Cyber Resilience Centre, the GM Cyber Security Advisory Group and the newly announced Manchester Digital Security Innovation Hub – the hub will be based in Heron House in the heart of Manchester - alongside GCHQ - and be able to draw on that world-class expertise, as well as that of the region’s universities and is currently in procurement for an operator.
The GM Cyber Security Advisory Group was setup earlier this year to ensure that the economic growth relating to cyber security can be maximised in Greater Manchester and that the cyber resilience of the city region is enhanced.
We have an ecosystem that creates a strong organisational partnership, collaborating for common benefit and the sharing of research and expertise that is driving a £500M+ opportunity with international reach. We are leveraging our expertise in areas like cyber security, digital health and digital manufacturing to attract further investment.
Everything we are doing here is Greater Manchester is about creating a place where businesses off all types and sizes can come and thrive.