Greater Manchester continues to build on its positive reputation for accelerating business growth and stimulating success for investors.  

As we say hello to 2024, leaders at MIDAS, Greater Manchester’s Inward Investment Agency share their predictions on what will be driving growth and where innovation will spark in our economy-driving sectors.  


Spotlight on smart and sustainable packaging   


As part of Greater Manchester’s strategy to become carbon neutral by 2038, there are a huge number of initiatives across the city-region to support businesses to make better, eco-friendly changes.  

In 2024, our Advanced Manufacturing team predict that the spotlight will be on sustainable packaging and the real impact it can have on eliminating manufacturing waste.  


Rachel Eyre, Head of Inward Investment for Advanced Manufacturing and Low Carbon says: 

There is an ever-increasing, urgent demand for sustainable packaging from consumers, retailers, industry stakeholders, and governments. Although it may often seem a daunting task, with a combination of the right academic expertise, research facilities and supply chain, it can be a smooth transition. 

We're a centre of excellence for sustainable manufacturing and have a history of harnessing new materials.  We were at the Greener Manufacturing Expo recently and it was great to see that Greater Manchester has what it takes on a global level, to support businesses who want to take the next step towards smarter packaging solutions. 

The Department for International Trade has recognised Manchester as a High Potential Opportunity for smart and sustainable packaging which is further supported by the Waste and Resource (WRAP) UK Pact, a £20 million Plastics Research and Innovation Fund, the implementation of a new plastics tax in 2022 and the UK Made Smarter programme. You can read more here.  


Smarter solutions for healthy ageing 


Greater Manchester’s ambition is to be the location to grow up, get on and grow old well. 

Studies show life expectancy in Greater Manchester increased since it was handed more powers over the control of its health and social care, as a result of the devolution deal with the government in 2014.  

Built on a long history for scientific innovation in healthcare, the city-region is working hard to address health issues in an ageing population by developing new diagnostic products and creating an internationally recognised clinical research network.

In 2024 our Life Science team suggests that we’ll see a spotlight on using smarter technologies to improve and identify age-related issues earlier on.  


Andrea Winders, Head of Inward Investment for Life Sciences and Healthcare at MIDAS says: 

Greater Manchester is already a leader in the Life Science sector. We’re working hand in hand with research and regulatory bodies, and the developing eco-systems to provide businesses with the information, connections, space, and opportunity to design, test and commercialise innovative products, to meet the increasing demands of an ageing population - from cradle to grave.

There will is a significant increase in public R&D investment expected from the government, and we predict that this will facilitate the development of more ‘out of the box’ assistive technologies to support people as they age, such as virtual reality tools, robotics and early detection tests and supportive devices.

Areas of specialisation and interest are computerised medicine and AI, technology and pharmacology working together, women's health, genomics, oncology, and preventative medicine, alongside digital e-Health applications, medical equipment, and large scale manufacturing to support growing life science businesses.


Read more about the high potential opportunity in Greater Manchester to support healthy ageing. 


Next steps for Neurodiversity 

Built on a rich history of multiculturalism, our city-region is known for its diverse population, and prides itself on being home to people from various ethnic backgrounds, religions and cultures.  

Now, there is a growing awareness of the full diversity and complexity of neurodiversity in the workplace and beyond and how celebrating differences can lead to the creation of unique and innovative solutions.  

Deborah Walker, Head of Inward Investment for Financial Professional and Business Services says:  

In 2024 we will see more businesses across all areas of financial, professional services and advisory embracing diversity, adjusting barriers to the profession, and making space for neuro diverse talent.  

Creating equal opportunities for neurodiverse people is not just a matter of social responsibility; it is also an investment in a richer, more innovative, and equitable society.  

As a city region our devolution powers will enable individuals to access careers through clearer vocational pathways and for organisations to recruit and retain key talent with the skills defined by those employers and sectors. Recruiting and retaining talent is a key driver for those organisations looking to scale up operations, on shore or build new teams.


Find out more on the free tailored and confidential support MIDAS can provide for businesses relocating to or expanding in Greater Manchester here.  


Diving deep into immersive tech  

Immersive technologies aim to engage users in interactive digital or simulated environments, blurring the line between the physical and virtual worlds.

In 2023, the MediaCity Immersive Technologies Innovation Hub was launched as one of the Government funded Innovation Accelerator pilot projects*, to develop and guide the innovation community, and to empower businesses in their pursuit of world-leading products and services.

Based at HOST and partnering with University of Salford, it provides the ideal ecosystem for large multi-national organisations, SMEs and start-ups to collaborate, innovate and invest.

Thanks to this investment and a clear, ambitious strategy, the future of immersive tech in Greater Manchester looks bright.

Kate Temperley, Head of Inward Investment for Creative, Digital and technology at MIDAS says:

In 2024 we’re going to see wider industry adoption of realtime interactive technologies such as augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) and mixed reality (MR), building on game and content development toolsets and 3D digital assets.

From creative industries, manufacturing and healthcare to the built environment, education and retail, immersive technology is becoming crucial to meet the demands for better user experiences, increased accessibility and new and exciting ways to engage, educate and empower employees.

As we see more societal acceptance for this type of tech, businesses are increasingly investing and researching the opportunities, cost saving benefits and exciting places this can take us and if they’re not, they should be!   


* Innovation Greater Manchester | Projects

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