Since arriving in Manchester City Region in 1925, IBM’s presence in the city has gone from strength to strength. Now, with over 1,000 employees based out of its south Manchester offices and city centre Development Laboratory, the world’s largest IT and consulting services company has certainly made Manchester its home.
Employees at IBM’s Jackson House site in south Manchester perform a variety of roles covering all sectors, from global leaders to specialists in various disciplines. The facility services some of IBM’s largest international clients which have hubs in the city region.
IBM’s commitment to the region was cemented in 2008 when it acquired the highly successful University of Manchester spinout, Transitive, and created the IBM Manchester Development Laboratory. The facility’s official opening in 2010 was attended by Rod Adkins, IBM Senior Vice President, marking the company’s dedication to long-term investment and integration into the city and the importance of Manchester in the global IBM footprint.
“Following several successful projects, the acquisition of Transitive provided IBM with a cadre of highly skilled engineers. The work they undertake at the IBM Manchester Development Laboratory forms an integral part of IBM’s global systems software development and we are delighted they are based here in Manchester.” said David Emery, IBM Vice President for General Business.
Engineers at IBM’s new lab develop optimisation, security and virtualisation software to help clients manage emerging workloads designed to reduce data centre costs. The Development Laboratory is used by IBM staff from around the world, allowing them to collaborate on projects.
IBM’s Manchester facilities benefit from the region being the first in the UK to pilot next generation broadband, which has increased internet speeds by up to 100 times. The ongoing development and regeneration of Manchester City Region is also a major draw with projects such as the 200-acre MediaCityUK site at Salford Quays, the first purpose-built, large scale convergent media complex in the UK which is set to be home to the largest HD studio in Europe and flagship tenants such as University of Salford and the BBC. Another exciting key development is The Sharp Project, a £5 million innovative virtual super studio located to the east of Manchester.
“Manchester provides a great base from which we can partner with our customers in the North of England, it has the infrastructure to support and attract new business,” added David Emery.
IBM has a long history with the University of Manchester. As well as acting as a launch pad for Transitive, the University is part of the UK-wide IBM graduate scheme. The Development Laboratory’s Operations Manager, Martyn Spink, is the University Relationship Manager, working to build, develop and maintain mutually beneficial links with the University. He is joined on the Steering Committee by Pro-fessor Colin Bailey, Vice-President and Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and Physi-cal Sciences, University of Manchester and Simon Pendlebury, Vice President, IBM Systems & Technology Group, UK & Ireland.
“The University of Manchester has a long history of working with technology compa-nies and IBM is a great example of this. The IBM Manchester Laboratory has its ori-gins in technologies developed in the School of Computer Science, and the university has many ongoing collaborations with IBM. For example, the University prides itself in having among the most comprehensive Computer Science and Information Tech-nology Management programmes in the country, and IBM contributes a Business IT Architecture module to these, providing a unique draw for students from across the globe,” said Professor Rod Coombs, Deputy President and Deputy Vice-Chancellor, University of Manchester.
IBM has been running the IT Architecture module – a specialist course not available anywhere else in the UK – at the University of Manchester for several years, providing the expertise and skills required. The links between the University of Manchester and IBM are strengthened further by their collaborative research projects, often involving IBM research and development centres around the world, helping to develop relationships between staff, students and IBM.
“The School of Computer Science at the University of Manchester is one of the best in the country, providing IBM with a continuous stream of talented graduates,” said Martyn Spink, Operations Manager, IBM Manchester Development Laboratory.
The quality of graduates in Manchester played a key role in the decision to open a Development Lab in the city, offering access to a strong pool of talent. At the same time, IBM has been able to attract top talent from across the Northwest, with a number of employees commuting from surrounding cities including York and Sheffield. In fact, many of the Lab’s engineers and staff are University of Manchester alumni, including several members of the management team.
ENGAGING WITH LOCAL COMMUNITIES
IBM sees great synergy between its Smart City solutions and the City Region’s goals for the future as described in the Greater Manchester Strategy. The Smart City ap-proach involves using the mass of data that is continuously being gathered in a City to develop and/or implement solutions to improve life for communities and to en-able economic growth. Embarking on a Smart City journey could involve utilising ex-pertise from IBM’s global teams, and exploring the relevance for Manchester of solu-tions implemented in other parts of the world.
“There is a huge resonance between IBM’s Smarter Cities Programme and the Greater Manchester Strategy,” said David Emery, IBM Vice President for General Business.
IBM is clearly a great champion for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and maintains an active programme across the region, from initiatives such as ‘Women in Technology’, an event designed to encourage women to get into IT and engineering, to KidSmart, which helps early-years pupils gain confidence, improve their literacy and numeracy and, for some children, provide them with access to a computer for the first time.
The ICT industry in Manchester employs over 50,000 people and a further 50,000 in the wider region which is 10% of the entire UK IT workforce. Growth in Manchester’s ICT sector has outstripped anywhere else in the UK, increasing by 50% over the past decade, nearly five times the national average.