Greater Manchester leaders have signed a new exploratory partnership agreement with Fujitsu which is linked to the Japanese technology leader supporting the development of Greater Manchester’s Investment Zone.

Through the agreement, Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) will work with Fujitsu to determine where the company’s technological expertise can enhance Greater Manchester’s world-leading manufacturing sector.

Together, Greater Manchester and Fujitsu will explore opportunities to deploy the company’s expertise in information technology, automation, and artificial intelligence to help Greater Manchester manufacturers innovate, improve their processes, and increase their productivity.

Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, Coun Bev Craig, leader of Manchester City Council and Vivek Mahajan, chief technology officer at Fujitsu, signed the agreement at a meeting held last Friday at the company’s head office in Tokyo.

The Greater Manchester Investment Zone is intended to provide £160m of public funding over 10 years to initiatives to support businesses in Greater Manchester, helping to create 32,000 jobs and leverage private sector investment.

The programme plans to build on the city-region’s technological and economic strengths in advanced manufacturing and materials, accelerating the development of growth locations including ID Manchester, with over £1bn of private investment, and Atom Valley.

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GMCA will continue to work with Government and other partners to co-develop the plans for their Investment Zone, including priority development sites and specific interventions to drive cluster growth, ahead of final confirmation of plans.

Fujitsu employs around 7,000 people across the UK, which is one of its most significant markets outside Japan.

Fujitsu’s Manchester site is a critical hub for its UK business, supporting some of its largest global customers.

Manchester is a key focus for its 2022 investment in its Centre for Cognitive and Advanced Technologies and is home to the company’s digital academies programme, which is investing in its future skills requirements.

Burnham said: “Partnering with Fujitsu is a massive boost for Greater Manchester’s Investment Zone just weeks after its announcement.

“The Investment Zone is an exciting programme that gives us the opportunity to attract private sector partners who can help deliver the ambition for Greater Manchester to be a global hub for the advanced manufacturing and materials sector.

“The agreement also serves as a further demonstration of the value of our trade mission to Japan, working to build a partnership with a global technology company, whose support will directly help Greater Manchester businesses.

“By supporting the growth of those businesses, we can deliver more jobs and opportunities to people across our city region.”

Vivek Mahajan, CTO at Fujitsu, said: “This agreement offers an exciting chance to explore how we can use Fujitsu’s strengths in technologies like artificial intelligence to address challenges unique to the manufacturing industry and encourage innovative solutions to problems facing the community.

“We look forward to working together to identify ways to support the sustainable growth and development of Greater Manchester business.”

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The mayor and Coun Craig led a Greater Manchester delegation mission to Japan last week aimed at furthering bilateral ties in trade, investment, decarbonisation, culture, and sport.

Greater Manchester leaders also agreed to sign a new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with SSE Energy Solutions during a visit to the company’s Japanese arm, SSE Pacifico.

Under the agreement SSE Energy Solutions will work the GMCA to explore ways to accelerate the delivery of renewable energy assets through the use of cutting-edge digital infrastructure solutions in Greater Manchester.