The upwards revision of ONS economic growth figures in August has resulted in growing confidence in the national economy and latest figures from MIDAS, Manchester’s inward investment agency, indicate that this positive trajectory is echoed in Manchester with the organisation being involved in the creation of nearly 1,600 new jobs in the first half of the financial year.
Over 900 jobs were created as a result of 15 successfully placed foreign direct investment (FDI) projects including German-based global bio-tech company Qiagen (115 new jobs / 160 safeguarded), US advanced materials producers Tygavac (15 jobs and 58 jobs safeguarded) and leading semiconductor company NXP (100 jobs).
UK indigenous investment accounted for around 700 jobs from 18 projects and included IT infrastructure company Comtec (30 jobs), Sainsburys service centre (118 new jobs created in ICT and HR). One other positive is that a number of these projects, particularly FDI, have been R+D centres and therefore high-value functions.
In addition to the strong half year figures for job creation there has been real growth in pipeline investment leads where increased MIDAS activity has resulted in over 160 leads in the first six months of the year – more than the whole of the total number received in the 2012-2013 financial year.
The current pipeline projects have the potential to deliver 7,792 jobs to the region and following trends observed in the ONS second quarter report, half of the 160 leads relate to revised growth sectors, financial and professional services (28%) and manufacturing (22%).
Tim Newns, chief executive of MIDAS, said: “Whilst we are extremely pleased to have had a very positive half year, it is even better to see significant growth in the current project pipeline. Whilst not all projects will land, this increased interest from companies looking to invest in Manchester shows there’s growing confidence in the local and national economy.”
“The investment environment has been challenging over the past few years, and there has been a need to simply deliver projects and new jobs. The priority for this year has been to rebuild the foundations for growth by increasing promotional and lead generation activity. Greater Manchester may not fully realise the benefits of this activity for another 12-24 months, however it will strengthen the position of the region in the medium-term.”
To support this increased activity MIDAS undertook an inward investment benchmarking study against its European city counterparts – including Amsterdam, Dublin, Stockholm and Barcelona – to understand where its strengths lie and identify how Manchester can continue to become more competitive having already been ranked as most business competitive city in Europe by KPMG for the second year running – the research suggested that good performance from an Investment Promotion Agency such as MIDAS is equivalent to three projects and 132 jobs per member of staff each year. MIDAS is already exceeding these targets having delivered an average of six projects and 154 jobs per head.
The report went on to reveal that the region punches above its weight in FDI job creation and performed above its peer group in attracting Financial Services, R&D and reinvestment projects. It also highlighted that many city peers, particularly the European capital cities, generate higher volumes of pure investment projects such as sales and marketing functions than Manchester, but notes that Greater Manchester attracts more valuable and higher quality projects.
Based on these findings, the next phase of MIDAS’ activity will focus on how assets such as Airport City, MediaCityUK, Manchester Science Park, Citylabs and Medipark can provide opportunities, particularly in the areas of ICT and life sciences.
Qiagen is an example of a life science company that has relocated to one of these thriving business hubs. Dr Allan Brown, Qiagen’s general manager, said: “Qiagen considered numerous European locations when looking to open our Global Centre of Excellence for Innovative Diagnostics, but the compelling case for Manchester which was put forward by MIDAS made our decision easy. MIDAS supported not only the growth of the company locally but also the internal business case I have made for the further expansion of the Manchester site.”
Qiagen has made a strong commitment to reinvesting in the city, the latest signs being the hiring of an additional 35 staff and an increase in plant space of some 25%.
“To be quite honest, this wouldn’t have happened without the help from MIDAS,” says Allan Brown.