Meet our Board: Rachel Kenyon – University of Manchester

Tuesday, 30th January 2024

At pro-manchester, we take great pride in being an organization driven by our valued members. Our board and committees consist entirely of member firms, and we are thrilled to introduce you to some of the exceptional individuals who contribute to making pro-manchester the remarkable organization it is today.


Who is Rachel Kenyon?

I’m Rachel and my role as part of the University’s Business Engagement & Knowledge Exchange team is to facilitate mutually beneficial collaborations between our academic researchers and non-academic partners. We want to inform our research with real-world challenges and data and find routes to ensure our academic endeavours have tangible impacts on the world.

My role basically is a relationship broker between academics and organisations (my wife says I go to coffee meetings and free lunches for a living!), but for businesses in the region our team can be considered the front door to the university and we can help you find ways in, advise on suitable routes for collaborations, and even help find funding to be leveraged to help partners work with academics.

Outside of all that I love music so it’s great having the Academy and many other fantastic music venues nearby. I’m also a big running nerd, I’m a running coach, on the committee of my club Manchester Frontrunners, and a Run Director at Stretford Parkrun.


Career highlight

I should say something like awards – we won Alliance of the Year at the British LegalTech Awards, or when I was at Co-op Financial Services the areas I was responsible for won the FT Sustainability Report of the year. But if I’m honest it’s getting to represent Manchester two years on the trot as an international go-to destination for innovation at the SXSW Tech Conference in Austin when the University joined Midas and Marketing Manchester there.


Name three words that describe your personality

We did a game for our work Xmas Do during lockdown where everyone was asked to submit 2-3 words that described other team members, these were then presented to us all as wordclouds. Three words that stood out on mine were Friendly, Sporty, and Opinionated – so I suppose I’ll go with those! (Someone also said I was delightful, I never learned who that was or what they were after! 😃)


Why did you decide that you wanted to be part of the pro-manchester board?

I’d been attending pro-manchester events for a few years, and occasionally helping to organise events that we would host at the University as a member. I really liked the pro-manchester team and when the opportunity arose for new board members I thought it would be a great chance to have the University represented there. Being on the pro-manchester board helps me keep my eyes and ears to the regional business community to help find opportunities and also to put the message out that the university is open to business in these ways, it’s not just about teaching and recruitment of grads.


What’s the best thing about pro-manchester?

Being at the heart of the Manchester business community and really feeling part of a family. Manchester is known for being a friendly and collaborative city and pro-manchester really builds on that vibe.


What do you think are the most important things going on in Manchester at the moment?

The Innovation District Manchester – known as ID Manchester. For those not in the know this is a new development on the old UMIST/North University campus next to Piccadilly station. It’s a £1.7bn joint venture between The University of Manchester and Bruntwood SciTech, set to be one of the world’s leading applied Innovation Districts providing unique access to disruptive technologies and ideas. It will be a platform that drives inclusive and sustainable economic growth, ensuring Manchester continues to make its mark on the world; core specialisms will be centred around advanced materials, health innovation, digital technology and biotech.


Favourite quote or saying

“This is Manchester – we do things differently here!” Or a more eloquent and layered version of this, from Emmeline Pankhurst, 1914: “Manchester is a city which has witnessed a great many stirring episodes, especially of a political character. Generally speaking, its citizens have been liberal in their sentiments, defenders of free speech and liberty of opinion.”


Favourite meeting place in Manchester

The Christie Bistro on our university campus. It’s a functioning bistro and coffee shop but set in an old academic library so it offers a classic academic vibe for a small meeting without the formality of our actual meeting rooms.