Tech is great CitylabsA high-level delegation from Manchester, including council leader Sir Richard Leese, is travelling to the US this week to profile the region as the UK’s IoT Smart Cities demonstrator. The aim of the roadshow is to facilitate trade, investment, joint venture and R&D collaborations.

The US roadshow will explore how Manchester is creating a blueprint for smart cities worldwide. It will start in Austin, Texas, at South by Southwest Interactive, (10-15 March), which is renowned as one of the world’s leading tech conferences, and finish with an event in New York on 16 March.

The public-private partnership showcasing the region includes Jacobs Engineering, which focuses on smart cities infrastructure and better connected transport solutions, and Manchester Science Partnerships, the HQ of the CityVerve Project consortium driving the UK’s smart city agenda. The University of Manchester will also be profiling its interdisciplinary Manchester Urban Institute which generates world-class research from across the arts and humanities, the social sciences, business and health. The delegation is led by MIDAS, Manchester’s inward investment agency, and part of the Manchester Growth Company, whose aim is to promote the region as a global destination for innovation and investment.

Sir Richard Leese said: “Smart cities are harnessing new technologies to improve the lives of their citizens and Manchester is determined to be in the forefront of this revolution. This event is an important showcase for the work we are doing and another opportunity to spread the message on a global stage that we are a forward-looking city and a great place to invest.”

Manchester has been creating the future for over 250 years. Birthplace of the Industrial Revolution and home to the first stored program computer, we’ve never stopped innovating. The region is now recognised as the UK’s second largest creative, digital and tech cluster, as well as a top 20 European digital city. This, combined with a long history of strong, stable local governance, proven public-private partnerships and the right ecosystem, makes the region the perfect test bed for smart city initiatives.

Ross Powell, Director of Operations, Jacobs Engineering, said: “We are looking at connecting new technologies to enhance the performance and longevity of existing and new infrastructure assets for local, national and international clients.  Manchester’s challenges and opportunities are replicated across the globe so maximising the value of the creative, digital and technical cluster is fundamental to ensuring our continued success in the engineering and professional services space.

“SXSW gives us a fantastic opportunity to engage with entrepreneurs, start-ups, academia and other city regions, and look for opportunities to solve our client’s challenges to make our cities more successful and prosperous places to live and work.”

Over 54,000 people work in creative and tech companies in Manchester’s thriving community which includes start-ups and homegrown companies such as, and the BBC. The US is Manchester’s number one country for foreign direct investment and 104 US-owned companies call the city region home, including Google and IBM.

Tim Newns, Chief Executive Officer, MIDAS, said: “Manchester’s significant creative, digital and tech industry is the second largest in the UK and presents significant opportunities for international markets like the US. This sector alone contributes £3.1 billion GVA annually and in 2016, over 1,600 tech start-ups formed in the city region, residing in our vibrant tech hubs such as MediaCityUK, the Northern Quarter, The Sharp Project, MSP and St Johns.

“As the UK’s IoT demonstrator city, it is important for us to connect with other leading cities in that field at this year’s SXSW. In our ambition to become a truly global digital city, the launch of the direct flight route to San Francisco later this month also provides us with more opportunities to connect with tech leaders in the US. Already operating over 100 weekly flights to US cities including New York, Atlanta and Houston, Manchester is within easy reach of US companies looking to expand into the UK.”

- ENDS -

The United States delegation will be in the US from 10 – 17 March. It includes Sir Richard Leese, Leader, Manchester City Council; Phil Swan, Programme Co-ordination Director, CityVerve and Greater Manchester-Connect; Ross Powell, Director of Operations and Kirk Rabius, Director, Strategic Asset Management Strategies, Jacobs Engineering; Rowena Burns, CEO, Manchester Science Partnerships and Anne Dornan, Head of Innovation & Partnerships, Manchester Science Partnerships; Rachel Kenyon, Business Engagement Officer and Rosie Haynes, International Project Officer, The University of Manchester; Martha Sama, Head of Business Development – Creative, Digital and Tech and Emma Cheshire, Strategic Advisor – Tech and Innovation, MIDAS.

Notes to editors

Manchester is the UK’s IoT Smart Cities Demonstrator. Supported by the UK government, CityVerve is an ambitious project that aims to create a blueprint for smart cities globally and positions Manchester at the forefront of IoT technologies to redefine ‘smart’ in the context of a living, working city.

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