Manchester has a huge opportunity be at the forefront of the next digital age, according to senior figures from the digital and communications community who gathered last week at a major event organised by MIDAS, Manchester’s inward investment agency.
More than 50 of Manchester’s most prominent companies including Cisco, Level 3 Communications, NWIX and Hibernia Atlantic gathered at the event to discuss how businesses in the city can leverage the opportunities created from early adoption of new technologies and how advanced robust infrastructure can encourage more companies to locate in the city region.
Manchester is well placed to benefit because:
• The city has ultra high-speed connectivity to the rest of the world via one of three ‘big pipes’ that connect the UK to North America. (Two of the pipes go to London and the South East and the third is linked to Manchester Science Park).
• As Video emerges as the dominant traffic type across the Internet, Manchester has the networking connectivity to manage and distribute the traffic.
• MediaCityUK’s location in Salford Quays and the relocation of five BBC departments.
• The Sharp Project – 250,000sq ft of space in East Manchester to be used as a new home for digital/media businesses. The converted former Sharp Electronics Warehouse will provide affordable, easy-in, easy-out space for these operations.
Sue Woodward, Director of the Sharp Project and Creative Media Champion for Manchester, chaired the event with speakers including Ian Kennedy, Senior Director at computer networking company Cisco, Derek Gough, Director at fibre-based communications provider Level 3 Communications and John Ridd, Chief Executive of networking provider NWIX.
Sue Woodward said: “Manchester has always been a pioneering city in media and technology. With other UK regional centre’s playing catch up, the city decided to develop a new strategy to ensure we retain our pole position. We have seized the opportunity of working with the world’s experts to exploit these opportunities which will ensure we don’t just stay ahead, we leapfrog.
“Manchester is uniquely placed to do this – our attitude, heritage and talent base, combined with leaders such as the BBC, Cisco and the universities create a powerful partnership able together to force the pace of change.”
Ian Kennedy, Senior Director at Cisco, said: “With a significant investment and physical presence in Manchester, we recognised the level of innovation in the digital media sector and the forward looking investment in internet technology being made regionally – Manchester is a city region that gets it.”
Katie Gallagher, Business Development Manager at MIDAS, said: “Nearly every business generates content, in fact 70% of Fortune 500 companies have their own on-line communities. Businesses need to know how to harness these new technologies to improve the way they do business. By ensuring the region’s companies have access to these services and understand how to use them we will ensure that Manchester remains a global centre for business.”
“With the development of sites such as MediaCityUK and the Sharp Project, the sector will only continue to grow both in scale and reputation.”
John Ridd, Chief Executive of NWIX said: “If we hark back to the industrial revolution, Manchester was at the forefront – the canals and railways were crucial to this success. Now, connectivity and network infrastructure to transport information are key to the future. Communications and Internet infrastructure is the new ‘black’.”