Posted on October 17, 2018 by staff

IN4.0 boss: ‘SMEs must innovate or die’


One of the North West’s most influential business figures has spoken out about the importance of innovation for an SME’s survival ahead of our Lancashire’s Untold Digital Story event.

Mo Isap is chief executive of technology specialist IN4.0 Plc, which recently announced a new joint venture with the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan).

The partnership is specifically designed to address productivity, technology adoption and skills in advanced manufacturing.

Isap, also a Greater Manchester LEP board member, stressed that IN4.0 will act as a bridge between universities and business and as a bridge between “knowledge and action”.

“There’s no point having the knowledge if you can’t put it to action – and it has to be deliverable, it has to be practical, it has to be real and it has to be now,” Isap told BusinessCloud.

“SMEs don’t have the luxury of spending two years incubating an idea. Ideas are great but outcomes are more important. Innovation with a small ‘I’ is important; it’s not just about one big thing or one big investment, it’s how you develop your innovation DNA within your business to be successful.”

As part of the partnership with UCLan, SMEs will gain support from specialist graduate, academic and technical talent through consultancy and training, alongside access to facilities through the university’s £35m Engineering Innovation Centre (EIC), which is due for completion in January 2019.

> Book your place at ‘Lancashire’s Untold Digital Story’

“What we’re looking to do is to develop technical disrupters who come out of university industry-ready so they can actually go into SMEs and deliver business objectives through their capacity and knowledge,” Isap said.

“It’s not good enough for students to just know their technical discipline. They need to understand how business actually operates and how technical innovation would practically be beneficial to those SMEs.”

Having previously led three SMEs, Isap admits that it can be challenging for small business owners to “look beyond the parapet”.

“You’ve got to look at your challenges for today but you need to have people who can help you innovate,”he stressed.

“Innovation is at the heart of SMEs; that’s what we do and that’s what we’re known for. If you don’t innovate you die.”

Isap is speaking at BusinessCloud’s upcoming breakfast event alongside Chorley Council CEO Gary Hall; Michelle Mellor, MD, Cummins Mellor; Stephen Johnson, co-founder and director, ROQ; Digital Lancashire chair Michael Gibson; Mark Crabtree, founder, AMS Neve; Miranda  Barker, chief executive of East Lancashire Chamber of Commerce; Jennie Williams, cyber protect officer, Regional Cyber Crime Unit (NWROCU); Andrew Green, CTO, Utiligroup; Frazer Durris, managing director, Businesswise Solutions; and Dharma Kovvuri, Dean of UCLan Burnley Campus.

“One of the things that makes us [Lancashire] who we are is that we’re modest – and that modesty is sometimes our folly,” said Isap.

“There are other places who aren’t so modest they get all the attention and they’re not half as good as we are. It’s about shining the light but it’s about doing it properly and making it real.”