MIDAS attended the Digital City Festival 2024 taking place at the creative hub that is MediaCity across this week. The “Made in The North Exhibition & Summit” was hosted by Prolific North and it united Northern media producers and showcased the talented individuals the city-region has to offer.

AI in the creative industry and the development of innovation and immersive technology, the importance of sustainability in production and access to local talent were discussed on the revolving panel throughout the sessions.

Hot house media city

Impact of AI on Creativity & the Creative Industry

The day began with a panel discussion on the “Impact of AI on Creativity & the Creative Industry..” Presenting the case that AI is not here to take over, but instead work alongside humans, David Holt gave a great example talking about the animated film sector saying “people want the places and the voice that helped bring the animation to their screens” referencing the fact that the human aspect of film production is still desired despite the rise of AI. AI is transforming the creative industry, and the potential is seemingly endless.

Sustainable Production

Bringing an environmental aspect to the event, the “What is the Direction of Travel for Sustainable Production” panel consisted Zen Barry from BBC, Lily Limmer from Picture Zero and Rob Page of Space Studios. It was highlighted how incredibly large the carbon footprint of a film production is, with the largest challenge being road travel. Power was a major issue, with multiple generators on set. Lily suggested that studios can tweak their schedules to avoid long road travel to fit in with public transportation times. Furthermore, having a sustainability team at the beginning of production will help reduce the large carbon footprint. Rob highlighted investments of over £1m into their office space to achieve their goal of being Carbon neutral by 2038. Investment of this level into a local workspace displays Greater Manchester’s commitment to sustainability in the industry and shows that there is more than a beacon of hope in changing the harmful habits in the creative industry.

Digital City Festival

Innovation & immersive technology

It’s no secret that the evolution of innovation and immersive technology has progressed at a significant rate over the past decade. For example, Match of the Day who, by relocating to the North, (to a studio in Dock10, MediaCity) in 2011 allowed the show to be filmed in high definition. The innovation in technology provided the iconic studio a responsive display, perfect for the show as it adapts to the players and teams the presenters  are talking about, adding a whole new dimension to the show, creating an immersive experience. The development in our city-region is reflective of Greater Manchester’s significance as a tech location. In video game production, at least 7 of the top 10 games were developed in the North. Simon Benson, from Talent for Tech, said,


“MediaCity can be the (tech) beacon for The North… we have an opportunity to be the epicentre of future media”  citing its connectivity as a location to reach other tech and media hotspots. - Simon Benson, Talent for Tech


Digital City Festival 2024

Access to talent

The final session was about access to talent and greater access to sustainable and inclusive jobs. Philippa Childs, Bectu, said the UK should “think outside the box” when it comes to recruiting and nurturing young talent. The talent pool is wide, and the rise of degree apprenticeships is key to bringing that talent in. These apprenticeships provide students with a pathway into the industry with an abundance of experience. The usage of digital apprenticeships is paramount as some may not be able to afford university. Colin Mckevitt of Badger and Combes, gave an insightful example  where 1st or 2nd year apprenticeships students  are given responsibility to direct and develop their own projects, this keeps them engaged, upskilled, and allows the employer to invest further as they gain experience throughout their learning process.

The future of digital in Manchester has never looked so bright. The event highlighted the strides the city-region has undertaken in becoming an influential location in digital, tech and media.