Entrepreneurs, innovators and business leaders gathered at Alliance Manchester Business School at The University of Manchester on Thursday 27 June 2024 for Business 2050 as part of the University’s Festival of Business.

The event explored how in a rapidly changing world, businesses can thrive and adapt to new technologies, changing attitudes to work and the threat of climate change.  As the Original Modern City, Manchester pioneered new ways of working and employment rights and led innovation. The event asked participants to jump forward to 2050, and image what Manchester and the world will look like. Discussions covered how businesses can navigate new challenges, how work cultures be fostered in a world of remote or hybrid working and how to work alongside advances in technology to ensure productivity.


Panellists included leading entrepreneurs and business professionals from a range of sectors; from retail to agricultural tech, alongside representatives from The University of Manchester.

Chair of The Greater Manchester Business Board Lou Cordwell joined the panel session “The role of technology and innovation in business” with Patrick Vizzone, co-Founder and CFO of Vertical Oceans and Mohammad El Hajj, co-founder ad CEO of Bright Biotech a startup specialising in plant-based production of high-quality and affordable proteins.   

The panel discussed the opportunities and challenges facing business through the rapid advances of technology including the adoption of AI , lack of regulation and issues around personal data. The session explored the technology landscape and how organisations can prepare for the future.

Lou Cordwell opened the session with a keynote speech. She said “Many of the challenges we face in our society and our economy can be fixed in theory, by incredible technologies that are hitting different gears. Innovation science and technology is absolutely integral to the future prosperity of our country.

“The Manchester stars are without doubt aligning, if you spend any time in the city you’ll feel the excitement. We are outperforming the UK in terms of economic growth and productivity. Right at the heart of our growth agenda is science and technology. “


On opportunities and threats to business Lou Cordwell saidThe opportunity is to move to a more agile way of thinking about your business plan. You’re going to be asking your team to pivot together and change in ways you couldn’t envision at the beginning of the year. You don’t need to worry too much about being prescriptive about the changes in technology that are coming.  You have to be clear on your ambition and build that agility into your systems to build on those opportunities as they arise. You need to think different it about what being strategic in business is.”


When asked about how the relationship between policy making and innovation could be improved, Lou Cordwell said “Politicians often have never worked in a business environment so how they collaborate with business leaders to create those policies needs to change. In the UK we’re seeing the need for that to happen in a place-based way

“Manchester has benefitted hugely from its leadership and stability, that allows us to long term plan. Sometimes you have to think of that 20, 30, 40 year view and politicians don’t always think like that. Politics bends policy our of shape so the more we can get political stability and get politicians to work with businesses the better. The challenge is, you can’t stop progress.”

The event also provided opportunities for networking and connecting with Alliance Business School team members to learn more about the opportunities available to them.