Last week Manchester warmly welcomed the Australian Government delegation and it was enjoyable and reassuring to see the strengthening connections between Greater Manchester and the Australian High Commissioner, Deputy High Commissioner, and the various Agent Generals and Trade Commissioners from Australia’s states. 

We shared our common ambitions, explored mutually beneficial opportunities around innovation, sector and cross-industry collaborations that will create unique value, skills and capabilities development, as well as enjoyed chatting about the numerous cultural synergies including sport (of course), music and great food.

There was genuine excitement in continuing this international dialogue between Australia and Greater Manchester. Led by the Australian High Commissioner, His Excellency Stephen Smith, a formal dinner was held at Emirates Old Trafford – where cricket wasn’t the only topic of conversation over dinner! This was followed the next day by a tour of Manchester’s world-class digital and innovation hubs, and two spirited panel sessions with Greater Manchester and Australian industry leaders.

As a scale-up business headquartered in Manchester, and with a long-standing presence in Australia, Informed Solutions’ Group CEO Elizabeth Vega OBE was invited to share her insight and experiences of growing the business through international trade and the vital importance of partnerships. Elizabeth joined a panel discussion alongside Elisabeth Bowes (Australia’s Deputy High Commissioner), Lou Cordwell (Professor of Innovation & Special Advisor, Manchester University), Tim Dillon (Agent General for Victoria), and David Stewart (Agent General for Queensland). The conversation centred on scaling and commercialising innovation, collaboration towards achieving net zero, the need to collaborate on commercialising innovation, and working together to build world-class skills and cross-industry capabilities.

Elizabeth reflected on her experiences of growing a successful international business over the last 30 years, and recognised the economic headwinds and geo-political pressures that businesses of both nations are navigating following the global pandemic. She outlined the need to embrace a growth mindset, particularly as regards innovation and skills development. Both countries have shared roots and cultural values, trusted rule of law, an ambition for progress and economic development, and the need to solve some big societal and environmental challenges that can deliver mutual benefits.

Elizabeth was keen to see Greater Manchester and Australia develop wider and broader collaboration by exchanging learning, insights, innovation, and expert capabilities. She cited the Australia-UK Chamber of Commerce excellent idea in establishing a Young Professionals network, which sought to develop bigger, international thinking in young professionals, build mutual understanding, and foster the rising stars and business relationships of the future.

Ahead of #InternationalWomensDay, Elizabeth also expressed the need for women to take more of a leading role in the future of tech, and she outlined the effectiveness of buddying and coaching techniques such as those used at Informed Solutions. It is important for women to feel welcomed and included in male dominated workplaces, from the start of the onboarding process, throughout the skills development journey, and in providing access to career advancement opportunities.

With the continued success of Australia-UK Free Trade Agreement, the potential for bringing together the very best innovations, capabilities and aspirations of both nations is enormous. We keenly look forward to welcoming future delegations from Australia to the UK, and reciprocally to Informed Solutions being welcomed and supported as we grow our relationships and business in Australia.