Manchester’s digital sector is worth £1.7 billion to the local economy according to the 2016 Tech Nation report, published today.
The most comprehensive analysis of the UK’s digital tech industries to date, Tech Nation 2016 underlines the role digital tech businesses are playing in boosting economies across the country.
The report highlights that the impact of Manchester’s tech sector on the local economy grew by an astounding 92% between the years of 2010-2014. It additionally identifies a 40% increase in turnover over the same period, and a 13% increase in employment from 2011-2014.
The report also credits Manchester as having the largest agglomeration of digital skills (51,900) outside of London and a digital density of 19%. The city is recognised for strengths across a rich variety of subsectors, including:
- Digital, Advertising & Marketing
- Digital, Media & Entertainment
- Hardware, Devices & Open Source Hardware
- Internet of Things & Connected Devices
Manchester’s active tech community is praised, alongside the city’s student talent which makes up the largest student population in Europe. The region’s many supportive spaces and access to commercial property were also highlighted. University backed spaces like Manchester Science Park; industry lead MediaCityUK; government supported spaces like The Sharp Project; and organically grown hubs within the Northern Quarter were all cited for adding to the rich ecosystem available to the tech and digital communities.
Finally, the innovative Manchester-based startup Wakelet and one of the recent Tech North Stars Formisimo are exemplified within the report.
Crucially, the report also identifies areas on which the city can improve moving forward. These include what is referred to as a limited talent supply, limited access to finance and low sector awareness. While these are in no way exclusive to Manchester, and are recognised in the report as the three biggest challenges to growth nationally, the city has expressed awareness of these challenges and has identified a series of steps already in place to tackle them.
These include a Combined Authority Strategic plan as a result of the regional devolution agreement to combat the skills gaps, shaped in part by a recent joint project between LinkedIn and Greater Manchester. LinkedIn identified Greater Manchester as a hub for people with digital and creative skills and that the region was attracting talent from London.
Manchester is also investing in additional resources to enhance its sector awareness through the recently announced appointment of Claire Braithwaite as Tech Advisor. One of Claire’s first actions in her role will be to support a Manchester stand and event activity at South by South West (SXSW), the dominant global event in the sector, in Texas next month. Manchester will be joined by a delegation of representatives from the BBC, Manchester Metropolitan University, the University of Manchester and Wakelet.
Tech Nation 2016 was compiled by Tech City UK, the government backed organisation tasked with accelerating the growth of digital businesses, in partnership with Nesta, the UK’s innovation foundation.
Jamil Khalil, Founder & CEO of Wakelet said:
“Manchester is a great city to start and grow a business and it’s great to be exemplified in the report. We’ve found that it’s a place where success can happen. Wakelet secured the majority of its first round investment of £1.1m from angels in the city; we’ve been able to access the right talent to take our business to the next level and the city’s networks have helped us develop interesting partnerships. Manchester is one of the UK’s top digital clusters and we’re looking forward to heading to SXSW not only to promote Wakelet but to demonstrate what the region can offer savvy tech companies.”
Katie Gallagher, Managing Director of Manchester Digital said:
“It’s wonderful to see that the report recognises the region’s exceptional networks, events and the work that Manchester Digital does to support the digital community. Whilst it’s evident that talent supply still poses a problem for Manchester, as it does for the majority of the UK, it’s reassuring that there’s a significant amount going on to redress this. Our Digital Skills Festival which is taking place this week features a skills conference, the UK’s largest digital career fair, and provides students with the opportunity to get some hands-on digital experience.
“A number of initiatives to grow the regional talent pool are already proving successful, including coding clubs at schools, the UTC@MediaCityUK and the delivery of degree level apprenticeships, through to our MD Employer Forum which supports best practice and professional growth. Plans to address the skills gap are also being developed as a result of devolution which will lead to the upskilling of our existing workforce and a new digital curriculum.”
Paul Breen, Managing Director for Angel Co said:
“The Combined Authority of Greater Manchester (GMCA) recognised the need to improve early stage financing to ensure ideas could become commercial businesses hence Co Angel was created. Co Angel aims to bridge the gap of ‘limited access to finance’ as cited as a challenge in the Tech Nation Report and to be the catalyst to stimulate co-investment in this sector. Thanks to a growing network of investors including Angel Syndicates, Universities, GM Tech Trust, Accelerators such as the recently launched Entrepreneurial Spark powered by NatWest and a number of high net worth individuals who formed the ‘Northern Syndicate’ there is a significant improvement in tech investment opportunities in Greater Manchester. As a result over the past year Co Angel has already closed six deals worth c.£300k each for tech businesses based in Greater Manchester, seven deals are at due diligence stage and the pipeline of tech businesses and potential investment partners is strong, helping facilitate more tech growth.”
Click here for a snapshot infographic of the tech scene in Manchester.