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BusinessAmazon seeks to super charge the growth of small businesses in Greater...

Amazon seeks to super charge the growth of small businesses in Greater Manchester with the launch of a unique accelerator programme

  • Exciting new programme launching in Greater Manchester will take local businesses behind the scenes at Amazon.
  • It will provide local businesses with insights and support on technology adoption and innovation to boost their productivity.
  • Initiative welcomed by Small Business Minister, Chair of Greater Manchester Business Board, Bolton Council Leader, and MPs for Bolton North East, and Wythenshawe and Sale East

Amazon is taking small businesses in Greater Manchester and surrounding areas inside their state-of-the-art robotics fulfilment centre in Bolton to show first-hand how they innovate.

The Amazon Innovation Accelerator, launching this week, draws together expertise from Amazon, Amazon Web Services, The Growth Company and Made Smarter. Together they will deliver a series of free workshops and mentoring sessions to kick start growth in the businesses involved, and productivity in the region.

The initiative provides a unique opportunity for small businesses to see in person how Amazon embraces new technologies and applies innovation to scale up. The fulfilment centre is emblematic of how Amazon streamlines processes, improves safety, and increases efficiency with robotic automation taking over certain duties, allowing employees to focus on more rewarding and engaging work.

The adoption of robotics across Amazon’s operations has created new roles within the company to support this technology, which tangibly demonstrates the positive impact it can have for employees and for the workplace.

Against this backdrop of a collaborative, automated environment with humans and robots, the workshops will feature expert insights and practical advice from Amazon’s own team on a range of topics that are instrumental to boosting business’ growth and productivity prospects including technology adoption, leadership, and management, all of which are central towards boosting business’ growth and productivity prospects.

Small Business Minister Kevin Hollinrake said: “This programme is a fantastic example of industry working to support small businesses and local communities.

“This scheme, on top of over £48 million in government backed Start Up Loans issued so far to local businesses, will scale up SMEs in Greater Manchester, supporting jobs and growth in the region.”

Neil Travis, Regional Operations Director at Amazon said: “Amazon has been serving customers in the UK for 25 years and we know how important it is to maintain a start-up mentality and find new ways to innovate.

“The success of small businesses is vital to Amazon, and we want to use the expertise of our teams in Greater Manchester to be a catalyst for growth and productivity for more local businesses and have a positive impact on jobs and the community.”

Greater Manchester was chosen as the launch location due to the strong existing business community in the area and to utilise Amazon’s significant investment and footprint in the region. Amazon has supported small businesses in the UK for the last 25 years and in Greater Manchester there are almost 7,000 small businesses selling on Amazon, generating just under £200 million of export sales in 2022.

The programme will be run in collaboration with Made Smarter North West Adoption Programme, who help local manufacturing small businesses to understand and overcome operational challenges through digital technologies, offering localised advice and support, digital transformation workshops and roadmaps, leadership development and funding support for technology adoption projects

Participants of the initiative will also be supported during the programme by individually tailored mentoring with Amazon site leads across the UK, helping them to pinpoint and address specific challenges they are facing.

Later in the year the programme will launch in the West Midlands with the potential for further expansion across the UK where Amazon sites are based to inspire and empower even more businesses.

These local businesses provide vital services and jobs for the communities where they are based, and they are an important part of Amazon, with independent sellers making up more than 60% of sales worldwide, most of which are small and medium-sized businesses.

One of the programme’s objectives is to provide a practical vision of how businesses can scale through digitisation, innovation and strategic planning. By sharing insights with local businesses, the programme seeks to increase local opportunities for growth, which is essential to addressing the low levels of productivity that the UK economy has experienced in recent decades.

Following the programme’s launch in Greater Manchester, it will expand to the West Midlands later in the year.

Ruth Hailwood, Organisation Development Specialist at Made Smarter, said: “We are delighted to build on a collaboration with Amazon that began with support for our Digital Champions, to share best practice on use of technology and their insights around culture of innovation with small businesses.

“We have seen the impact this has had on our manufacturing small business clients, seeing how big business do things and learning how to use these tools in a small business environment.”

Lou Cordwell OBE, Chair of Greater Manchester Business Board (LEP), said: “For Greater Manchester’s economy to become more productive, we need to find ways to support innovation within businesses of all sizes.

“More innovation among small businesses can unlock better productivity, which in turn gives us increased wages, higher growth and good-quality jobs.

“Amazon’s Innovation Accelerator programme offers small businesses in our city-region invaluable insights into the technologies and strategies deployed by one of the world’s largest companies. It’s also another fantastic example of collaboration across big business, SMEs and business support organisations in Greater Manchester.”

Bolton Council Leader, Cllr Nick Peel, said: “Bolton is lucky to have a strong and diverse manufacturing sector ranging from small businesses to major international firms.

“This new programme will help build on our success, allowing these smaller local businesses to exchange ideas and learn from an industry leader in innovation.

“As Digital City-Region portfolio lead at Greater Manchester Combined Authority, I want to see businesses across our area embrace new ideas in order to drive productivity, boost growth, and create more skilled jobs.”

Mark Logan MP, Member of Parliament for Bolton North East said: “Championing our small businesses in Bolton North East is central to so much of my work. That is why I support the Amazon Innovation Accelerator scheme.

“Amazon’s plan to provide free workshops and mentoring sessions to our local businesses will be vital to help improve their reach.

“I know through speaking with Bolton businesses that they want to compete across the country and internationally. And with Amazon’s training and guidance, I look forward to seeing our local business thrive in a competitive marketplace.”

Mike Kane MP, Wythenshawe and Sale East said: “In Wythenshawe and Sale East Amazon’s investment into jobs and skills has been really good for the constituency.

“Seeing Amazon build upon these efforts by supporting small businesses through the launch of their Innovation Accelerator programme, and in partnership with Made Smarter and the Growth Company. I look forward to seeing how local businesses benefit from the programme.”

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