On the 19th October the CityLabs team hosted over 40 SMEs at the Open University to kick start the support programme. This event saw the project partners and supporters come together to outline the ways in which SMEs can engage with and benefit from CityLabs. The event started with a presentation from Geoff Snelson, Director of Strategy and Futures at Milton Keynes Council, outlining the strong position in which Milton Keynes finds itself as one of the fastest growing cities in the UK. The government initiative to create the Oxford, MK, Cambridge Corridor as a region of growth and digital excellence opens many opportunities for the region and CityLabs is just the sort of initiative the council is pleased to support in discovering and exploiting these. Hilary Chipping, deputy CEO of SEMLEP, explained the regional growth agenda and the network of support in SEMLEP, of which CityLabs is part. It was also great to hear from Steve Chown, manager at MK e-Spark, about the connected network of SME support in Milton Keynes. e-Spark have a vibrant entrepreneur support programme, hosting over 80 SMEs in MK and are delighted that CityLabs is seen as part of that support.
The CityLabs team outlined the PATHWAYS of support that the programme offers. Jyoti Banerjee of Fronesys was on hand to explain the Urban Business Lab and the two day workshops that will help SMEs focus on customer needs. Enrico Daga of the OU outlined the individual technical support and prototyping activity that SMEs can benefit from. Lastly, Neal Force of WND was on hand to showcase the Sigfox network that is being installed nationwide to help SMEs innovate with IoT. A great start to the project say all attendees sign up to CityLabs and begin a journey of support hat will help them innovate in the digital economy.