Cisco UK & Ireland Blog

Our hive for innovation in Manchester: Mi-IDEA opens for business

October 6, 2017

In the city that takes the bee as its symbol, we’ve been building a hive of our own: Mi-IDEA.

21st September was our official launch – and the atmosphere was buzzing.

Mi-IDEA stands for Manchester Inspired Innovation Digital Enterprise Alliance and is run in partnership with Manchester Science Partnerships (MSP), forming part of our post-accelerator model for co-innovation.

Forget what you know about co-working spaces or tech accelerators: Mi-IDEA is different.

We have a different approach to supporting the start-up ecosystem altogether. As well as providing a home to exciting tech start-ups in Manchester, it will act as a focus point for co-innovation between businesses, universities and government institutions.

Mi-IDEA is also the headquarters for our smart cities demonstrator, CityVerve. This is a project which is a living embodiment of co-innovation.

Over 20 organisations, including MSP, Manchester City Council, BT, Ordnance Survey and others, including some amazing start-ups, are working together to build a blueprint for smarter cities everywhere.


Over 200 people, including Jake Berry MP, gathered for the opening of the centre. MSP chief executive Rowena Burns and our own UKI chief executive Scot Gardner declared Mi-IDEA open for business.

As Scot says, the opening of Mi-IDEA couldn’t come at a better time: “We believe in connecting people, process and technology, rather than developing hubs in silos,” he said. “It’s not about localised agglomeration; what’s important is creating a nationwide network of ideas, talent and finance. We’re Cisco after all – you know how much we like to build networks!”

Rowena was similarly upbeat about the new centre. She said, “The digital tech and science sectors are driving the growth of our economy – regionally, nationally, and internationally. We are delighted to see that contribution reflected so strongly in government’s recently-published industrial strategy, and we will work with partners and with Government to ensure that Greater Manchester, and the wider Northern Powerhouse, play an important part in putting the UK at the leading edge of technology-led international innovation.”

Personally, it was a pleasure seeing so many people who have come together to build something new and exciting under one roof celebrating Mi-IDEA’s launch.

But the hard work continues. Along with our London centre, IDEALondon; CREATE, where our ideas become proof of concepts; and the National Virtual Incubator (NVI), we have many of the building blocks for co-innovation.

I joined Cisco to help solve some of the world’s biggest challenges. CityVerve is an example of where we’re looking to do that at city scale, but we have many other areas we want to be part of: whether it’s helping people to become more productive, be healthier or have a better transportation system.

Or, as we learned last week, fitting bees with ‘backpacks’ to study issues such as colony collapse, habitats and pollination.

Mi-IDEA gives us a base in Manchester to bring together the brightest minds to help tackle these issues, and more besides.

It’s a centre that’s open to the public, so do pop by and see what we’ve done. Or you can take our virtual tour.

We have certainly been busy bees!

To find out more, visit.

Or join the conversation on Twitter at #ThePlaceToBee

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  1. Brilliant insight to business aspects of the recent Mi-IDEA launch and the broader Cisco Innovation programme in general. Way to go, Nick.