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Meet the board - Q&A with Ben Davies

Manchester Digital is delighted to announce the appointment of Ben Davies to our board directors. Ben joins the board with a wealth of experience of founding and funding businesses, and is currently group marketing director for Praetura Ventures.

We caught up with Ben to find out a bit more about his journey into digital and tech and his hopes for the future of Manchester Digital.

Could you share with us why you decided to apply to join the Manchester Digital board?

I’ve admired Manchester Digital for a long time and supported with events in a previous role. Having worked with similar organisations, Manchester Digital’s reputation within the public and private sector has always been exceptional and I’d love to be part of the story. Whilst I didn’t grow up here, I’d proudly say I’ve been adopted by this city and want to contribute to its future.

Could you tell us a bit about your background and experience in the digital and tech industry?

From founding a chain of NW co-working, co-living and event spaces to helping grow Social Chain, I feel like I’ve grown up with Manchester ’s tech industry as it’s evolved into the thriving ecosystem it is today.

In my current role at Northern-focused VC Praetura Ventures, I help our portfolio businesses grow through our More Than Money support. I hope that I can use similar skills to make Manchester Digital the gateway into the best parts of the tech sector, connecting Manchester’s large household names with some of the city’s most exciting startups.

What specific skills or view points do you hope to bring to the Manchester Digital board and how will this support Manchester Digital’s objectives?

As stated in the ‘What’s Powering The Powerhouse’ research we embarked on last year, I feel Manchester is at a crucial inflection point. In the research, we laid out six key factors that need to happen to help us reach our full potential, one being supporting ecosystem builders like Manchester Digital. I believe Manchester Digital are in the best possible position to help fuel our growth trajectory as a region.

My core goals are centred around greater access to the right capital for early stage tech entrepreneurs, strengthening their support network to grow meaningful companies and improving the size & diversity of our regional tech workforce.

What are your hopes and aspirations for Manchester Digital as a board member?

If we can be known for being the ‘go-to’ destination for the Manchester tech community, there will be new ways we can help our members grow talent, attract better financial support and continue to turn heads. Taking inspiration from similar organisations in other cities and industries, we can champion our home-grown successes and elevate the city’s reputation. 

In your opinion, what are some of the key challenges that the digital sector in Greater Manchester is facing and how do you see Manchester Digital addressing these challenges and maximising opportunities for the membership?

Praetura see over 1400 applications for funding every year. Unfortunately so many early stage businesses still aren’t getting the capital and support they need to build great companies. Retaining our own talent and recycling capital through the system is essential to building on our success to date. Last year we attracted over £532m in tech funding, out stripping Rome, Warsaw, Lisbon, but we’ve still got a lot of unrealised potential. 

Finally, access to the tech sector is a real pain point for me. I’ve been fortunate that my passion for tech has given me a vehicle to work with some incredible companies filled with inspiring people. Through Manchester Digital, I’d like to find new ways to make that option open to more people from a greater variety of backgrounds. Whilst this will not be an overnight success, we will need a variety of organisations working in tandem over time in pursuit of actual inclusivity.

Finally, outside of your work experience are you able to tell us an interesting fact about yourself?

I used to run an independent food bike tour and craft beer crawl as part of AirBnB’s Experiences launch in Manchester, I had to stop because the Mobikes were recalled!

Thanks Ben!

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