Not-for-profit organisation Turing Innovation Catalyst has launched in Manchester with a vision to accelerate Greater Manchester’s AI ecosystem.
Led by The University of Manchester, the new hub will work with a consortium of businesses, academic and public sector organisations, to develop skills and support existing AI start-ups and emerging companies to further develop Greater Manchester’s £5bn digital economy.
Funded by Innovate UK, the Turing Innovation Catalyst will be headquartered at ID Manchester and a further three hubs across the region, with the first being at Fire-Up, a coworking space in Rochdale.
The launch event was led by Elizabeth Scott MBE, formerly of Tech Nation, who has taken up the post as director of the new organisation. Scott outlined the Turing Innovation Catalyst’s upcoming programme of activities, which has four core elements. It includes a start-up accelerator, offering three to six months of support and investor connections for ambitious early-stage AI start-ups.
The second is ‘venture builder’, a programme offering commercial skills for promising PhDs to turn their innovations into start-ups.
There will also be collaborative R&D projects to encourage research collaborations, shorten development cycles and drive commercialisation of AI technologies.
The final element is a portfolio of skills programmes, run in partnership with local universities and organisations, to increase private sector investment in R&D and improve access for women and underrepresented communities and fund PhD expertise in start-ups.
The event included a series of panel discussions on the region’s talent and AI capabilities with leaders including Matthew Scullion, founder and CEO at Matillion; Anna Brailsford, co-founder and CEO at Code First Girls; Richard Potter, co-founder and CEO at Peak; Lou Cordwell OBE; James Heggs, co-founder and CTO at Tech Returners; and Dr Somayeh Taheri, founder and CEO at UrbanChain.
The University of Manchester, which is leading on the creation of the Catalyst, describes it as a project which “aims to accelerate Greater Manchester’s £5bn digital economy by supporting existing start-ups and creating new ones – especially in the field of artificial intelligence. It will also help to develop skills in the region, with a particular focus on women and under-represented groups in the industry.”