You have supported The Big Chip Awards for a number of years, what is it that makes the awards so special for you?

We have sponsored The Big Chip awards for the past five years, and it is a hugely valuable relationship.  MSP was created by city partners to grow Manchester’s knowledge economy by helping to transform new ideas in science & technology into commercial reality, and these awards are a fantastic way to recognise the innovative spirit which Manchester is famous for.  Manchester is a thriving city full of incredible businesses, and we want to take every opportunity to celebrate this.

 How do you think a Big Chip Award benefits winners?
Winning a Big Chip Award means you have the seal of approval from the longest running digital industry awards in the country -  definitely something to shout about! The Northern Powerhouse and Devolution agendas means that all eyes are on Manchester, and awards such as these really help to build confidence in the growing digital sector, as well as highlighting our movers and shakers at a national level. Winners benefit from great press, new contacts, and the satisfaction of having their achievements acknowledged in front of sector leaders and peers.
In your opinion, what has been the biggest change in the digital sector in the last 12 months?
The local digital sector has really boomed over the last 12 months.  From the £350,000 investment into University of Manchester spin-out Twine, to multi-million pound deals such as the £11m investment in RealityMine and the acquisition of MSP-based Telecity by Equinix in a massive £2.6bn deal, it is clear that Manchester is home to some of the most dynamic digital companies in the UK. Our fastest growing tech firms include Apadmi, Degree 53, Godel Technologies, and MSP customer Metronet(UK). Government and media attention over the last year has provided a powerful spotlight on northern successes, but more needs to be done to galvanise the local scene.  
Digital skills shortages are still a burning issue for the sector, as demand for skilled professionals continues to outstrip supply, and more businesses are having to turn work away due to lack of internal resource. So it was great to see the energy which was put into this year’s Digital Skills Festival to set the local agenda and encourage emerging talent to stay in the region. More digital businesses are now taking on apprentices, and it was great to see two MSP-based companies - ANS Group and UK Fast - join forces to offer apprenticeship opportunities and expanding their own cloud training academies on campus. It’s been fantastic to be able to work with some bright young digital talent over the past year at our sponsored Hackathons including HackManchester and the GreatUniHack.
The next 12 months promises to be just as exciting with the launch of CityVerve - Manchester’s Internet of Things City Demonstrator - funded by InnovateUK, which is bringing together universities, global corporates, SMEs and start-ups to test how best of breed IoT technologies can transform city services using open standards and innovation. We’re hugely enthusiastic about this project’s potential to deliver a real smart city and support the next generation of digital businesses through the IoT incubator at MSP.

What are you looking forward to at this year’s ceremony?
We can’t wait to be inspired by this year’s entrants and are particularly interested to see what comes through our sponsored category -  the ‘Most Innovative Application of Technology’ award. And of course, the after party!