Andy Burnham has backed Tech Manchester’s mentoring initiative to provide a “bridge” into the digital and tech sector for would-be entrepreneurs.

Tech Manchester is a new not-for-profit looking to deliver an improved tech mentoring offering in the city while also connecting talent with potential investors.

Burnham, the new mayor for Greater Manchester, held a landmark gathering of the region’s top digital minds last week as he looks to harness the power of technology to connect people, businesses and communities.

Speaking exclusively to BusinessCloud editor Chris Maguire, he said starting out in tech could be daunting for those looking in from outside.

“Let’s be honest: if you are not in the digital and tech world, it is quite scary and it can be quite excluding,” he said. “It’s very much an ‘in’ crowd.

“Mentoring is a bridge for people who don’t have that confidence and feel outside of it – it enables them to feel ‘yes, I can do this’.

“I am passionate about mentoring generally. In the digital context, it is crucial – if you are not in the heart of the digital world, it can play a big part in bridging that gap.

“Mentoring is massively important.”

The Tech Manchester project is headed up by former Regus director Patricia Keating and backed by a number of high-profile entrepreneurs including UKFast CEO Lawrence Jones MBE.

It is already working alongside organisations like the Business Growth Hub, part of Manchester Growth Company, and launches with a ‘Mentor gathering’ at UKFast on Tuesday 11th July from 5-8pm. You can sign up to attend for free here.

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“I’m massively supportive of what Tech Manchester is doing in trying to bring mentors together,” Burnham said. “In the end, collaboration will get us where we want to be.

“We will benefit individually from that, but we will all do better together – and Tech Manchester is doing a fantastic job in pulling those threads together and helping us to achieve that.”

One of the mentors who will be in attendance is Dan Cluderay, founder of Approved Food.

“The biggest challenge facing start-ups launching a business today is defining the unique service that makes them different from the rest,” he told BusinessCloud. “When you are a start-up, it's easy to lose yourself in the detail.

“As a community, we can share openly opportunities and point out the bigger fish to fry. I hope the event will offer the chance to meet some inspiring people.

“It’s exciting to be involved with start-ups. Everyone is different – we all have unique opportunities and challenges before us.”

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