New fund launched to help businesses in Greater Manchester’s everyday economy trial new ideas

  • Foundational Economy Innovation Fund will provide grants for businesses and organisations in Greater Manchester’s foundational or ‘everyday economy’ to trial new ideas and become more resilient
  • Businesses and organisations asked to come forward as part of an initial expression of interest phase, which aims to develop networks and "match" potential applicants with relevant partners
  • Grants available for challenges affecting adult social care, early education, childcare, retail, and hospitality and leisure
  • Businesses can also access support through other routes

A new fund that will help business and organisations in the everyday economy to trial innovative new ideas and improve the way they work has been launched by the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA). 

The “foundational economy” or “everyday economy” refers to the parts of the economy people depend on for their daily needs, including adult social care, early education, childcare, retail, and leisure and hospitality, across the private, public and voluntary sectors.

The Foundational Economy Innovation Fund will provide grants to businesses and organisations for projects that trial innovative new ideas and ways of working over a period of up to 24 months. The fund aims to support a more prosperous Greater Manchester by helping these sectors become more resilient and profitable while improving the quality of jobs.

Businesses and organisations are being asked to come forward as part of an initial expression of interest phase, which aims to develop networks and "match" potential applicants with relevant partners.

For more information and to express your interest visit the Foundational Economy Innovation Fund web page.

Projects should address one or more areas of opportunity where new ideas could make an impact: in helping businesses transition to net zero or reduce their energy costs, localising supply chains, developing new ways of working and adopting new technologies, or improving the way key services are delivered. If successful, these projects could be scaled up to support other businesses across Greater Manchester.

Cllr Bev Craig, Leader of Manchester City Council and GMCA Portfolio Lead for Economy and Business, said: “Greater Manchester’s everyday economy provides the goods and service we all need to get by. But businesses and organisations within these sectors struggle to raise investment from the private sector, limiting their ability to innovate and evolve.

“The Foundational Economy Innovation Fund is there to remedy that. In doing so, we want to shift perceptions and give the businesses and organisations in this vital part of our economy the recognition they deserve. 

“The fund is there to complement the support available to businesses during this difficult time. But by supporting innovation around the challenges these sectors are facing, like rising energy costs and a shortage of workers, we can help businesses become more resilient to challenges in the future”

In Greater Manchester, approximately 40 per cent of the workforce are employed in foundational economy sectors. To become a more prosperous city-region, Greater Manchester leaders want to increase resilience and the potential to grow profits in these sectors by directing investment to find new, innovative ways of working. 

Directing investment to the foundational economy is a response to the Greater Manchester Independent Prosperity Review – a report by a group of eminent economists on the current state, and future potential, of the city-region’s economy.

Many of these businesses were among the hardest hit by the pandemic and impacts of leaving the European Union and are now facing further pressure due to rising inflation and energy costs. 

The large number of people employed in these sectors means improving investment and jobs improves the quality of life of a large proportion of Greater Manchester’s population. The Foundational Economy workforce also contains larger numbers of female workers and people experiencing racial inequalities. 

During the first phase, the fund will provide initial grants of up to £10,000 to businesses and organisations to develop their ideas and trial innovative ways of working.

A second stage will provide 10 of those projects with £60,000 to further develop their ideas, with all funding recipients also joining a new innovation community which will offer support and advice to give projects the best chance to succeed.

The Foundational Economy Innovation Fund is one aspect of support available to businesses during this time and is designed to offer applicants the chance to try out and test ideas and innovations. The full range of support on offer during the current energy and cost of doing business crisis is provided by the Growth Company here.

Lou Cordwell, Chair of Greater Manchester Local Enterprise Partnership (GM LEP), said: “We’re proud to support the launch of the Foundational Economy Innovation Fund, which offers small grants for projects and ideas that could have a massive impact.

“We all depend on the foundational economy for our daily needs and a significant proportion of the population in Greater Manchester are employed within it. By backing businesses and people in these sectors we are recognising the true value of the work they do, while also having a potentially transformational impact on the working lives of thousands of people.

“If you’ve got an idea about how to improve your business or the sector you work in, get in touch to find out more.”

Article Published: 27/10/2022 09:46 AM