Greater Manchester

The home of Media City, a thriving music scene, and the newest city of culture, Stockport, Greater Manchester is a diverse hub of creativity. The Greater Manchester region is being led by the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) and encompasses Wigan, Bolton, Bury, Rochdale, Salford, Oldham, Trafford, Manchester, Tameside and Stockport.

Lead Organisation

Greater Manchester Combined Authority



Greater Manchester

Share this project

About the region

With four universities and numerous colleges focusing on creative and digital arts, the region’s rich creative and cultural history provide the ideal hub for innovation.

The region’s creative diversity is reflected in the Create Growth Programme cohort, which has a little bit of everything – from sustainable fashion, graphic design and modelling, to performing arts, magazine editing and music production.

With more than six years’ experience running support programmes, including the Creative Scale Up (CSU) pilot, the team are continuing their legacy and applying learnings. This includes the fact that sub-sectors such as gaming provide a bridge to the creative sector, starting conversations with investors and opening doors to other areas.

Now, the team are excited to deliver the Create Growth Programme and showcase everything the region has to offer, providing more opportunities to creative businesses and creating a legacy that stretches beyond the programme and first cohort.

We do things differently. We are super diverse, we’re super quirky and we want to truly embrace that and make that our strength going forward.

Sarah Novotny, Digital, Creative and Tech Sector Lead, GC Business Growth Hub

Objectives and delivery

The team are excited to give the creative sector more focus, strengthening it to make Greater Manchester the “Hollywood of the UK”, developing an international brand that aligns the region with certain attributes.

Their heritage of doing things differently also provides an opportunity. Sarah Novotny, Digital, Creative & Tech Sector Lead at GC Business Growth Hub says, “We don’t want to be known for one thing. We want to be known as a diverse community that thinks outside the box.”

The GMCA are offering coaching, masterclasses and leadership events, designed to help businesses find contacts, showcase innovation, and support their journey to investment readiness.

They’re also shifting mindsets and helping founders understand their value. Becki Coen, Programme Manager for Digital, Creative & Tech at GC Business Growth Hub explains, “A lot of them have started as a hobby or passion project, so getting them to be a bit more commercially minded is a big part of the programme.”

Impact and response

Drawing on their learnings from previous support programmes, the GMCA have a finely-tuned but diverse first cohort of 20 businesses. This curated approach allows them to foster a truly collaborative environment, led by peer-to-peer support and underpinned by advisor relationships.

The team has excellent links to investor networks as well as the university ecosystem, providing multiple channels for businesses to access funding, and supporting the community element that underpins much of their work.

So far, the response has been very positive from both the businesses and investors. The broad range of support means Greater Manchester doesn’t have to turn anyone away – no matter what stage the businesses are at, no one has to go it alone.

The team are proud of the collaborative approach that the programme offers and are excited by the regional networking and knowledge sharing opportunities.


Connect with Innovate UK Business Connect

Join Innovate UK Business Connect's mailing list to receive updates on funding opportunities, events and to access Innovate UK Business Connect's deep expertise. Please check your email to confirm your subscription and select your area(s) of interest.