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The growth of next generation digital business at Salford

Alex Fenton at MediaCityUKI was recently interviewed by a journalist for an article in the Independent on “The Powerhouse of the North – Connecting students to business is just one of the ways management schools are improving the area’s prospects“. It’s a topic close to my heart, so I wanted to reflect more on this including:

  1. How students at Salford have access to cutting edge businesses without needing to be in capital cities. The growth of the digital sector for SMEs in Salford and Manchester and how this can rival the access the next generation of business leaders have in other cities.
  2. How being based in Salford is an advantage to entrepreneurial students, as they’re able to make great connections to the rest of the world
  3. The kind of support that’s available at The University of Salford to students and companies in terms of incubators, business advice, student internships, joint research and events that bring together SMEs, academics and students.

MediaCityUK, Salford University

MediaCityUK, University of Salford

The growth of the digital sector in the North-West

The digital sector in Salford and the North-West is buoyant with elements like MediaCity (Salford  have a campus there next to the BBC and ITV), The Sharp Project, Northern Quarter (and forthcoming Tech North).

Manchester Digital are doing some particularly great work in this area, with its membership quadrupling in recent years to 18,000 digital professionals and 2000 students, its conferences and talent days are incredibly popular.  A study by Oxford Economics also forecasts that job creation in the North-West over the next 5 years looks to outpace other major cities.

Being based in Salford and Manchester is an excellent choice for digital innovators and entrepreneurs

Northern online businesses are outperforming the UK average according to a recent Ebay labs survey, Greater Manchester has the greatest concentration of small online businesses in the UK, including London. Shoreditch and Tech city are in 26th place. A great example is our Salford alumnus Jamil Khalil who has recently raised over £1m to build his digital company Wakelet. Jamil and Wakelet are based a stone’s throw from where several of the company members studied at The University of Salford. They strongly believed this was the right area to be based in. From here they can tap into all of the growing digital industry, skills, resources and contacts, but can be in other cities within a matter of hours with the transport links and technology we have. Some more examples include

lavinia-goddard-grand-idea

Lavinia Goddard – Grand Ideas winner with VineJuice

  • Our current MBA student Samuel Otigba who has picked up several awards and prizes for his entrepreneurial digital work. Samuel is working closely with Salford Business School academics, partner companies and student life to develop his innovative digital idea.
  • Salford Business School undergraduate student Lavinia Goddard also won first prize in our digital innovation competition Grand Ideas with her new company VineJuice where they pitched against 5 other student teams for a cash prize and further business support to local angel investors Web Apps UK.

 

Support from Universities for Digital Business

The industry focussed local Universities, in particular Salford are working closely with these up and coming and established digital companies in the curriculum development, delivery, internships and collaborative research project such as Knowledge Transfer Partnerships.

BIP (Business Innovation Projects) and placements have been highly successful in engaging with the local digital industry, helping out companies and creating job

Student Marta Rodriguez successful BIP internship with WebShop Direct

Student Marta Rodriguez successful BIP internship with WebShop Direct

opportunities and experience for students. BIP is highly popular with students and companies with a large number of Masters business students coming through the programme looking at real world business problems. Many of these are choosing to help companies directly via a practical internship. Salford are also one of the leading Universities for Knowledge transfer partnerships, which connect industry with academics and a KTP associate working on a specific business problem for an extended length of time. These projects are funded and generally last two years to enable new revenue and new research to be generated.

Salford Business School have won a number of notable digital industry awards for their collaborative projects with staff and students including Big Chip Awards and the European Search Awards. The Passport to Trade 2.0 (www.businessculture.org) is an example and brings information about business culture and digital skills to SMEs and students globally and has been hugely popular. A great example BIP project was with student Marta Rodriguez who helped to embed insight into Web shop direct, an e-commerce company that sell Swimwear and UK Swimwear and UK tights. Marta’s research and practical social media skills helped to increase sales and gain a job with the company. She also won a prestigious student award at the Big Chips.

Alex Fenton and Marta Rodriquez, Big Chip Awards

Alex Fenton and Marta Rodriquez, Big Chip Awards

Digital CPD courses such as Search & Social Media Marketing at MediaCityUK and online also help connect with industry and add new digital skills to small companies. Salford Business School have had a significant effect on businesses and society and all of these things led to them achieving the ABS Small Business Charter and THE Business School of the Year.

Creative Entrepreneur, the Next Generation

The Creative Entrepreneur event is one of the initiatives that last year attracted over 300 companies, academics and students, delivering panel sessions, masterclasses and installations at our state of the art MediaCity campus to educate and entertain the next generation of entrepreneurs. We’re planning to go even bigger and better this year, again at MediaCity, pulling together our centres of Digital, Social and Sports to open our doors to entrepreneurs and intrepreneurs locally and from much further afield, creating something of major value to our current students, businesses and others.

This event will run again on 25 November and is open to all as a free event. Registration is open now 

Alex Fenton

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