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‘Why Not… What?’ – Innovation Group Emerges from Intercity iD LAB Leadership Forum

A new business forum has been established, in Manchester, to promote technology innovation in disadvantaged areas.

The ‘Why Not… What?‘ group has been created by business leaders to act as an economic and social catalyst in the North of England by encouraging technology innovation in marginalised and disadvantaged areas.

The initiative follows a one-day Technology Leadership Forum, hosted by Intercity Technology and the iD LAB (Intelligent Datalytics). Guest speaker, Lucy Smith, from the Northern Powerhouse Partnership (NPP), briefed attendees on the NPP’s Independent Economic Review where they estimate that up to 800,000 new tech industry jobs could be generated in the North by 2050.

Introducing the NPP 2050 Route Map for Productivity, Lucy argued, that the North needed more investment in education, skills training, infrastructure and leadership. Core NPP recommendations also include:

  • £30m for tech start-ups
  • Fibre connectivity across the North
  • £30m for 5G testbed
  • Establishing a Northern Centre of Excellence for Civic Computation.

Intercity Technology’s Chief Commercial Officer, Ian Jackson, also addressed the Forum. Ian outlined his journey from a northern start-up to a national service provider delivering 24/7, 365 services to the most demanding of customers across health and the wider public and private sectors.

He told the group about his experience in both the public and private sectors, challenging traditional boundaries and known business models. Ian’s message to the audience was clear – Northern businesses should “stay focused, agile and alert to innovation and change.”

Highlighting Intercity’s apprenticeship and graduate training programmes, Ian added that government could do more to engage small and medium-sized local businesses in the public procurement process.

The CEO of Aucoda, Stuart Melhuish, also pointed out the challenges a small northern business faces when competing for contracts in the South. In addition to the indirect costs associated with a complex procurement process, Northern SMBs face logistics problems because of poor transportation.

All of the participants called for more investment in communications and transport. iD LAB’s Senior Vice President, Philip Adams, called for more ‘generational thinking’ and said the entire nation was in dire need of a more sophisticated technology and transportation platform if it was to compete on the world stage.

The Voluntary Sector was also represented at the Leadership Forum. UK Director of Islamic Relief Worldwide, Imran Madden, described the technological changes his organisation faced. Imran said their known and established business models were also threatened by technology but they were being proactive exploring new, more innovative ways of working.

Everyone agreed that more should be done to make innovation a part of everyday thinking, as it once had in the North’s great industrial past. Delegates also pointed out that many of today’s technologies ‘rested on the shoulders’ of previous innovations and that the North should not only build on that legacy but use innovation to improve the lives of others – especially the marginalised and disadvantaged.

So, they agreed to create the ‘Why Not… What?‘ group – a not-for-profit organisation that will support marginalised areas by turning innovative ideas into real world working technology solutions through knowledge, skills, networking and collaboration.

Additional Information:

The ‘Why Not… What?’ group will meet again early 2018. For more information, please contact

For more information about the Northern Powerhouse Partnership:

The ‘Why Not… What?’ group founder organisations include:

Intercity Technology
A leading mobility, unified communications and IT solutions specialist. Based in Bolton, Birmingham and Manchester.

GDPR and ISO Data Compliance services plus Data Analytics and AI business based in the West Midlands, Manchester and Belfast.

Advanced business transformation, new agile ways of working. Warrington based.

Manufacturing Technology Centre
The Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC) develops and proves innovative manufacturing processes and technologies.

Disruptieve Modular
Off-site design; different thinking about towns and cities; attracting and retaining young talent; always connected; digital disruption; changing retail concepts; planning for the future. Manchester based.

Developers, Business Analysts. Testers and Project Managers ready to work on your business problems. Manchester based.

Go Earth Ltd
We can help you fulfil your dreams and find the right leisure boat for you at the lowest cost.

ThreeSixtyServices LLP
Threesixty delivers advice and personalised solutions to over 800 directly regulated IFA practices. Manchester based.

Creative Support
Creative Support is a charitable organisation that promotes the independence, inclusion and wellbeing of people with care and support needs. Manchester based.

Islamic Relief
Islamic Relief Worldwide is an international humanitarian organisation that provides development programs and humanitarian relief around the globe, regardless of race, political affiliation, gender or belief. London, Birmingham and Manchester.

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