Foundational Economy Innovation Fund

The Fund

The Foundational Economy Innovation fund is providing grants for businesses and organisations working in or with Greater Manchester’s foundational or ‘everyday economy’ to trial new ideas and become more resilient, with £1,000,000 of funding is being made available over a 2-year period.

40 projects have now been awarded initial grants of £10,000 plus expert support, to develop or trial ideas and innovations over a 6-month period. You can find out more about the projects below.

Up to ten projects will receive additional grants of £60,000, plus expert support, to develop their projects further and expand on their impact.

The Foundational Economy 

The "foundational economy" supplies essential goods and services, ensuring that Greater Manchester can function effectively.

It includes key workers, essential supply chains and infrastructure, culturally important goods and services (like hairdressing and beauty) and it underpins places, other parts of the economy, and well-being.

It’s the “everyday economy”, or the “essential economy” – the businesses we all rely on for our daily needs.

The foundational economy accounts for over 42 per cent of jobs in the city-region and it is made up of more than 60,000 businesses.

It has a big effect on the levels of innovation and business sustainability, employment practices, the quality of work available, and income levels across Greater Manchester.

The true value of many of our foundational economy sectors has never been more apparent than during the pandemic response, when our key workers and industries kept us going through the emergency response and beyond.

The sectors

The Foundational Economy Innovation fund is in its first iteration focusing on supporting projects in or with a sub-set of the sectors that encompass the Foundational Economy as a whole. We’re starting with four sectors:

· Health and social care

· Early education and childcare (0-5 years)

· Retail and personal services

· Hospitality and leisure

The challenges 

We are supporting projects that test new and emerging ideas across one or more of the following challenge areas:

Innovations that help with developing, recruiting and retaining staff. This could include new ways of upskilling the workforce, improving progression routes or providing greater flexibility of working patterns and security of hours worked. This could also include finding new ways to connect employers and potential employees, including the self-employed and those who have struggled to find stable work, particularly individuals experiencing inequalities. This does not include using funds to subsidise staff to conduct business as usual activity, the use of monetary incentives, or the purchasing of wellbeing services.

Innovations that help create or integrate new ways of delivering your current services or products to a higher standard by doing things more efficiently and effectively. This could include re-thinking your approach to resourcing, organising work, and the adoption or development of technology. This is not about expanding or fundamentally changing the services or products you provide, but instead doing what you do already, better.

 Innovations that support local, sustainable, and circular supply chains. Circular supply chains being those that share, lease, reuse, repair, refurbish, and recycle existing materials and products for as long as possible within Greater Manchester. Innovations that reduce or manage energy consumption and carbon emissions, including via the development and testing of new technology, as well as new systems and initiatives to use and share resources more efficiently or reduce the use of resources.


The partners

We are partnering with the Greater Manchester Growth Company who are providing expert support to develop skills in innovation, pitching and business resilience.

They are also leading on a “community of practice” in place to amplify and share learning from and between projects, as well as peer to peer support.

We are also partnering with Little Lion Research who are leading on the evaluation of the fund.


The projects

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