Digital Leaders SME Conference 2019

Supporting Digital Transformation & Inspiring Innovation

12 February, 8:30 am – 4:00 pm, Media City, Salford

The SME Conference 2019 brought together those in the public sector leading support for SMEs along with a group of large corporates and specialist providers who also provide support.


The SME Conference 2019 brought together those in the public sector leading support for SMEs with a group of large corporates and specialist providers giving support to SMEs. There were keynotes from Ministers, the latest innovations on the main stage, a chance to meet some of the most inspirational programmes, lots of networking and an active exhibition all hosted at the latest accelerator in the North West, “The Landing”.

Industry support for SME Transformation is being led by large corporates from the tech and banking sectors who provide support both in large national programmes like training platforms and at their points of contact with SMEs, but are all business organisations fully aligned in this journey?
Government support programmes are rolling out across the UK with business support and skills programmes delivered by a wide range of agencies and arms length organisations including the charity sector, but is this the right support and sustainable?
Start-up and innovation programmes are giving the push and acceleration that digital start-ups need. We met some of the very best.



Thread one: Strategic programmes and challenges
9:35 Keynote: Building the digital capability and skills of our SME sector
Nick Williams, MD Commercial Banking Transformation, Lloyds Banking Group
9:50 Keynote
Eleanor Bradley, COO, Nominet
10:05 Panel Discussion: Change is hard – Supporting transformation
Robin Knowles, CEO, Digital Leaders
Jonathan Print, Senior Digital Advisor, GC Business Growth Hub & Wigan Council
Patricia Keating, Director, Tech Manchester
Gregg Pearce, Head of Marketing Demand Generation at Virgin Media Business
10:45 Keynote: Productivity – The ‘postcode lottery’ of SME productivity
Sabby Gill, MD UK and Ireland, Sage
11:00 Break: Morning Coffee and Networking
Thread two: SME Innovation
11:30 Keynote: Innovation at the City Scale
David Hardman, Managing Director, Innovation Birmingham
11:45 Expert Speaker: Innovation in action
Paul Billington, Managing Director, The Landing
12:00 Panel Discussion: Supporting Innovation
Helen Oldham, Founding Board Director, NorthInvest
Katy McNeil, CivTech® Intrapreneurship Programme Lead, Scottish Government
Alex Cook, Innovation Manager, PROTO
Simon Renault, Head of Special Projects, Innovation Point
12:40 Keynote: Supporting and inspiring entrepreneurs
Penny Power OBE
Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester
13:10 Lunch Break and Networking
 Thread three: SME Skills
14:15 Keynote: Supporting Digital Skills – A national view
Chris Ashworth, Head of Public Benefit, Nominet
14:30 Expert speaker: Salford and digital skills in action
Debbie Brown, Director of Service Reform, Salford City Council
14:45 Panel Discussion: Delivering an SME skills programme
Gori Yahaya, Founder, Upskill Digital
Michele Lawty-Jones, Director, Lancashire Skills Hub
Jonathan Print, Digital Growth Advisor, GC Business Growth Hub & Wigan Council
Sam McGreevy, Digital Inclusion Senior Manager, Lloyds Banking Group
15:25 Fireside Chat: Smart Cities
Alison McKenzie-Folan, CEO, Wigan Council and Bob Brown, CIO, Manchester City Council
15:55 Chair’s Closing Remarks
16:00 Close and Networking



Lloyds Banking Group logo


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The Digital Leaders SME Conference 2019 was held at The Landing @ MediaCity UK. A workspace, community, business support, user experience testing labs, maker lab and events. The Landing is the technology enterprise incubator for high-growth companies at the heart of MediaCityUK. We used the ultra-modern “Social 7“, networking and conference space on the 7th floor with spectacular views of MediaCity UK.