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2014 highlights

Ta-Ta 2014: Our CEO Lou Cordwell takes a look back at 2014

18th December, 2014

So we’re speeding towards the finish line here at mN, squeezing in everything we can before the year breathes its last gasp and we close the doors on 2014. Looking back at the last twelve months it’s hard to believe just how much we’ve managed to pack into a year.

2014 started with the launch of movieNight, featuring films selected by the mN team and created as a place for us to share things that inspire us as designers and makers. It’s been great to see the event gathering momentum as the year has progressed and our programme has stretched all the way from Andreas Dalsgaard’s ‘The Human Scale’ in February to Martin Parr’s ‘Turkey and Tinsel’ in December. We’re already arm-wrestling for which movies will make it onto the shortlist for 2015!

May brought the launch of our first wearable tech project at CBBC Live where thousands of children got to play with RFID powered wristbands we created for the event. And then in June came one of the year’s real biggies, mN became one of only seven companies appointed to the BBC’s new digital design roster - assigned to the incredibly exciting arm of the BBC that is Sport and Live. After 12 years of working together the news marked a new era in our relationship with the BBC and seven months on we’re still pleased as punch to have been selected.

The Summer also gave birth to Plot, the UK’s first ‘on-demand’ garden and another exciting project. Launched as a pilot at the urban gardening festival ‘Dig The City’ the project explored the concept of private garden spaces that can be booked by the hour within city centres. The response was overwhelming with all slots booked in 48 hours, huge interest from other cities wanting Plot to come to town and tonnes of media coverage including a dream piece from the much coveted Fast Company. Watch this space for more Plot news in 2015!

There was no sign of a slow down in the Autumn with the launch of the wonderful American Air Museum archive delivered in collaboration with the team at the Imperial War Museum. The project - builds for the first time - a picture of the experiences of the two million American servicemen who passed through Britain during the Second World War. The project took ten months to complete and has given both teams something they can be incredibly proud of.

October also saw a second launch: the Manchester Walking Tours app – powered by our latest product, an audio walking tour platform we’re calling Under The Paving Stones (or UTPS if you’ve had one too many sherries!). Look out for more UTPS launches in 2015.

And then still more news in November – Caroline Sotorrio stepped up to become mN’s MD (go Caroline!) and more big brains joined us in the form of Stuart Almond, our new Head of Production and Mike Milner, our new Senior Designer (we’ve had to dig out the wonky old chairs to put at the end of our Christmas dinner table tonight to accommodate the growing team!).

All in all it’s been a bit of a bumper year here at mN. But not just for us, it’s been an incredibly exciting year for Manchester and the wider North. We’ve had some momentous announcements this year around Devolution and TechNorth. This was swiftly followed by the news from the Autumn Statement and the staggering investments planned for Science and Culture in Manchester. All of which has helped to put Manchester well and truly in the spotlight for 2015 and will give rise to growing momentum in the City and the North, particularly in relation to the tech sector.

And as we cross the line into 2015 there’s a palpable momentum in the air.  With all eyes on Manchester it’s an exciting time to be in this part of the world, it's an exciting time to be in tech and it's the perfect time for us to look forward to our 15th birthday in 2015!