News Release

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

The partnership between Cisco and Manchester Science Partnerships will accelerate digital innovation in the North of England
Jun 12, 2016

London, 13 June 2016 – Cisco and Manchester Science Partnerships (MSP) today announced that they are opening the Mi-IDEA (Manchester Inspired – Innovation Digital Enterprise Alliance) innovation centre on MSP’s 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 confidence and 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 Manchester’s 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.



Notes to Editors:

Today’s news follows a series of pledges by Cisco to support innovation and growth in the UK. 

In 2011, John Chambers met with Prime Minister David Cameron and pledged $500 million investment into the UK economy, primarily through its British Innovation Gateway (BIG) initiative. This commitment supported the government’s ambition to create a world leading technology centre in East London that would generate jobs, diversify the economy and support sustainable growth. It was also designed to ensure an enduring legacy from the London 2012 Olympic Games.

The initial pledge was based on Cisco’s belief that the UK held the potential to become one of the powerhouses of the global technology landscape. This view has subsequently proven itself true over the last 4-5 years.

In July 2015, Cisco committed to investing $1 billion to accelerate UK digital economic growth through multiple projects over three to five years. These included investments in education and skills initiatives and a major extension of Cisco’s British Innovation Gateway programme.

So far, this has been realised through the investment in the following areas:

●      Entrepreneur/Start-ups – Through the creation of a $150 million funding commitment for UK start-up and venture capital equity investments. It will prioritise the development of applications across various business verticals, smart cities, and cyber security.

●      Education – The UK suffers from a lack of STEM skills and low productivity. Cisco will develop its local Networking Academy® education program to promote innovation and entrepreneurship. There are currently 293 active academies in the UK, reaching 24,637 students.

●      Expand UK workforce – In December 2015, Cisco opened a new Central London office located at 10 Finsbury Square, to host over 200 cloud technology professionals. It will allow Cisco’s London-based operations to expand three-fold by early 2017.

●      Startupbootcamp - In December 2015, Cisco announced an investment in Startupbootcamp, a leading start-up accelerator that will make a significant contribution to the next generation of innovative digital companies. 

●      Acquisitions – In the past 12 months, Cisco has acquired Acano and Portcullis. Acano is a privately held company based in London that provides collaboration infrastructure and conferencing software. Portcullis is a privately-held UK consultancy company providing cybersecurity services to enterprise clients and the government sector.


Manchester tech companies : early stage  businesses interested in speaking to Cisco about the new facility in Manchester and/or wishing to be considered for inclusion in the programmes listed above, should contact:


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About MSP

MSP is a leading science and technology park operator which provides labs, workspace and growth support services to over 300 companies across 5 campuses. Established to accelerate the commercialisation of new research and technologies, it supports innovative businesses through every stage of their lifecycle - from start-ups to global corporates.

MSP is a public-private partnership, its shareholders are Bruntwood Ltd, The University of Manchester, Manchester Metropolitan University, Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Manchester, Cheshire East and Salford City Councils.

Media Contacts

Amy Lucas

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