Since the start of the COVID-19 crisis, the Manchester Digital team has been working tirelessly on behalf of the sector.
This article from Manchester Digital's Managing Director, Katie Gallagher, outlines what has been achieved so far.
Research and data gathering
During the crisis, the Manchester Digital team has been working really hard to understand what the impact has been on our members, if the government support packages will work for them, and to understand what new programmes and measures we can take to provide relevant advice and support.
In the past three weeks we have surveyed hundreds of businesses and individuals; many are finding the current situation extremely challenging. You can see the results from our survey here
In summary, half of the freelancers we spoke to expect to experience financial hardship, most small companies are not eligible for the SBBR grants as they are in managed or co-working spaces, and approximately two thirds of companies have made use of, or plan to use, the furloughing scheme.
Our research has also highlighted that there are significant gaps in the recently announced interventions and many of our companies cannot benefit from them. Manchester Digital is working with government, both regionally and nationally, on an almost daily basis to share the challenges our community faces and lobbying them to take action. The work that the tech sector is doing is critically important to the future of the region and will be a key route in the economic recovery of the UK so it is vital that it is supported now, when it needs it!
Manchester Digital sits on the board of the UK Tech Cluster Group and every week we report into the Minister for Digital to lobby for support, including cosigning, alongside Coadec, the Save Our Startups campaign. We have shared our research with the Mayor and the Combined Authority and we are working closely with them to find further solutions for our industry. This week, GMCA has sent a letter to the Treasury with a range of recommendations on how current policies can be tweaked so that more technology businesses can benefit from them.
Member / Community Support
In the last few weeks we have also developed a range of initiatives that we hope will provide additional support to our members, these include:
- Provided three month’s free membership to all GM-based tech and digital businesses
- Created a COVID-19 live resources page full of the latest advice, resources, articles and webinars related to business support
- Set up a #coronavirus channel on the #MDTechCommunity Slack channel to allow businesses and individuals to share advice and knowledge in real time
- Fortnightly Employer Forum to discuss any topical issues, how people are implementing and using govt support etc
- Freelancer hangouts to provide support and collaboration opportunities
- Will shortly be announcing peer-to-peer mentoring to help people up-skill both in work or whilst they are furloughed.
- We have also paused membership renewals whilst we know that cash flow and revenue streams are impacted for many businesses and we are offering our membership, free for 3 months to any tech business that needs it so they can benefit from our services.
It has been extremely encouraging to see the appetite amongst the community to still keep sharing and collaborating and our online events have been hugely successful. If you have any content or event ideas, please do book a Zoom meeting with the team by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org As you would expect we are seeing incredible resilience from our businesses and people pivoting products and services at an amazing speed and offering support and aid to the wider sector and community.
Manchester Digital is a small, not-for-profit business and like most of you, it has been an uncertain and occasionally difficult time for us too. Thanks to the commitment of my team who really are dedicated to building and helping our community and the ongoing support from my board we will be here for the foreseeable future and will do everything in our power to ensure that we emerge from this with an even stronger sense of community spirit and ready to face the next challenge.
Katie Gallagher, Manchester Digital