Thanks to all those who attended the Place Based Innovation Workshop on July 8th in Manchester Digital Development Agency – especially, those who had worked for Manchester Knowledge Capital who initiated many networks for social entrepreneurs and started the thinking about developing the capacities for a more innovative Manchester. The world has now moved on – but we will miss those intermediaties like M:KC that were forging a new architectire for conenctivity between innovators, companies and public bodies.
Those who came to the workshop had diverse views but most agreed that there was a need for more than projects and exchange networks, and this stemmed from as concern that we need a new innovation framework, and the narrative and connectivity across the city that would support this. The New Economy is carrying on this work, as are other agencies and the Sharpe Project which had had their Summit on creative and digital industries in Manchester earlier in the month. Danny Meaney from New Media Partners is writing this up as a strategy document (firstname.lastname@example.org).
One of the things that came out clearly from the meeting was the need for a stronger narrative for place-based innovation that persuaded leaders of the need for a systemic approach to innovation as a problem-solving tool that nurtures strategic thinking, as well as creative exchange between under-the radar innovators and business and public leaders. Manchester is a very creative place and has a history of innovation – but creating the conditions for innovators today is not only about support for individuals but also about fostering the mechanisms and connections that lift debates and generate solutions and the new relationships that will nurture future collaborative problem-solving. Those in Mad Lab do not need managing but a more open-system where their ideas and talent gain visibiliy from business and politicians and the public. As someone said, social media makes it possible for individual grapevines to become open and inclusive.
Some of us also believe that we need to allow ourselves more time to reflect on what a more innovative Manchester would look like, not just for business and creatives but for local people. The reason we need a more systemic approach to innovation is not to manage and control it but to share thinking and learning, and to lift the debate about where and when innovation is needed, and why. Most people think innovation is a matter of more technology and gimmicks and do not recognise social innovation as innovation at all.
In unpacking our ideas we started to come up with some ideas of what we could practically do:
The following were mentioned (in no particular order):
* keep the conversations going through events and on-line
* work with other other emerging networks, ie with Art’s (Cornerhouse and Creative Industries (Sharp)
* creative a neutral space for events and debate
* develop an Manchester Innovation narratives based on place rather on individual services or businesses
* Use open-source techniques to solve local problems in conjunction with community groups
* develop ideas for the Local Enterprise Partnership
I’m sure there were many more…. please comment
In terms of creating neutral spaces it is possible to host events in MBS and MDDA who also volunteered their ‘Living Labs’ as a way of anchoring collaborative problem-solving.
This was only an introductory conversation which I’m sure I haven’t done justice to – there is surely something about filling the spaces between so many projects and networks by creating a narrative for a systemic approach to place-based innovation.
Su and James