Cisco and MSP to open Mi-IDEA innovation centre in Manchester

13th June 2016


The partnership between Cisco and Manchester Science Partnerships will accelerate digital innovation in the North of England.

Cisco and Manchester Science Partnerships (MSP) today announced that they are opening the Mi-IDEA (Manchester Inspired – Innovation Digital Enterprise Alliance) innovation centre on MSPs central campus. The centre will support the growth of key innovation clusters in the North of England, and furthers Cisco’s commitment to supporting British innovation, digitisation and the UK business economy as a whole.

Mi-IDEA, a joint venture with MSP, will work with early-stage companies in the North to develop innovative technologies and solutions. The partnership will focus on the areas of smart cities, Internet of Things (IoT), digital healthcare and the digital creative sector. In addition, the centre will offer post-accelerator and established technology companies a tailored programme to help develop the confidence and necessary capabilities as they scale.

Located in MSP’s newest 70,000 sq ft development, No. 1 MSP Central, in the heart of Manchester’s thriving innovation district, Mi-IDEA will also function as a second site in the UK for Cisco CREATE. Cisco CREATE is a collaborative research function which works with industry partners, start-ups, government, research institutions and universities. It aims to find innovative, technology-based solutions to some of the most pressing real world challenges of today.

In addition, Mi-IDEA will strengthen the North’s representation in Cisco’s National Virtual Incubator (NVI). Established in 2012, the NVI is a network of leading incubation centres, research facilities, science parks and academic institutes across the UK, that regularly collaborate in a variety of ways using video collaboration technologies, and will allow businesses across the UK and Ireland to benefit from collaboration with Manchesters technology innovators.

With collaboration at its core, the centre will be a digital living lab, showcasing the very latest in Cisco technology alongside the innovations of the companies in residence. It will provide an inspiring environment where public, academic and private sectors can work together to transform their industries.

Phil Smith, Chief Executive, Cisco UK & Ireland, said: “The city of Manchester has innovation in its DNA. Our investment in the city builds on our ongoing commitment to support new digital businesses and high-tech entrepreneurs across the UK. Mi-IDEA will be uniquely positioned to tap into local, national and international innovation ecosystems. It will benefit from MSP’s existing partnerships across the region and be a key part of the NVI. Coupled with Cisco’s successes at IDEALondon and Cisco CREATE, we’re confident that Mi-IDEA will deliver a unique environment in which tech companies in Manchester can grow.”

Anne Dornan, Head of Innovation at Manchester Science Partnerships said: “Mi-IDEA is a reflection of our long-term commitment to growing the digital technology sector in the region and the culmination of our partnership work with Cisco since the National Virtual Incubator was launched in 2012. In high growth sectors it's vital to provide targeted and specialist support programmes with access to global supply chains in order to unlock the potential economic impact for the UK. Bringing together diverse partners from across public, private and academic sectors to drive innovation and economic growth is at the heart of MSP and a hugely rewarding endeavour. We are excited to see this project come to fruition.”

Mi-IDEA will be Cisco’s second start-up focused innovation centre in the UK. It follows the success of IDEALondon, launched in 2013 by David Cameron as a partnership between Cisco, UCL and DC Thompson in Tech City. Already start-ups based at the IDEALondon centre have raised more than £20m in funding and created more than 120 jobs. The centre in No. 1 MSP Central is scheduled to be operational early in 2017.  

The announcement is the latest step in Cisco’s country digitisation agenda and its support of UK and digital growth. In July last year, Cisco announced that it would invest over $1 billion in the UK over the subsequent three to five years. It is also part of Cisco’s long-term commitment to partner with national leadership, industry and academia to accelerate the national digitisation agenda. This involves creating new jobs, supporting the growth of UK GDP and investing in a sustainable innovation ecosystem that spans public, academic and private sectors.