Manchester's Inward Investment Agency (MIDAS) Shows There's Life Outside London at SXSW

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Manchester, UK, among those attending SXSW this week to showcase the city as a hub within the creative, digital, and tech sectors.

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Not only is Manchester a thriving European hub of digital and tech talent, but the city is increasingly attracting talent from around the world.

A delegation from Manchester, UK, including the BBC Connected Studio and Manchester start up Wakelet, is at SXSW this week to show off the region’s credentials as a hub of creative, digital and tech talent.

The city of Manchester has innovation built into its DNA. It has invested heavily in assets and infrastructure that have quickly transformed the region into a European technology hub. With over 4,232 technology companies, Manchester is now the largest UK tech hub outside of the greater London metro scape.

Recently, the Tech Nation 2016 report revealed that Manchester’s tech sector grew by 92% between 2010-2014, making it the city’s fastest expanding sector. The report also identifies Manchester as having a 40% increase in turnover over the same period, a 13% increase in employment from 2011-2014, and the largest agglomeration of digital skills (51,900) outside of London.

A recent skills study from LinkedIn found that the region is becoming a major talent competitor to London. Of the 24,000 LinkedIn members that moved to Greater Manchester over the 12 months of the study, most came from London.

The first of its kind in the UK, the Greater Creators report used data from LinkedIn’s 600,000 Manchester members to also reveal that:

  • The top three skillsets Manchester is winning from London are digital marketing, user interface design, TV and video production;
  • Game development, theatre and drama, writing and publishing, social media marketing and TV and video production are among the top skills moving into the area overall;
  • Linkedin users’ most employable skills are social media marketing, event coordination and data mining.
  • Tech is Manchester’s third largest sector.

Moving forward, #ProjectManchester will see the development of an ‘Economic Graph’ for the city as part of a long-term strategic relationship between Greater Manchester and LinkedIn. This will be a digital map of Greater Manchester’s economy that will use the workforce data held by LinkedIn to analyse Greater Manchester’s labour market in specified areas and sectors.

The Economic Graph will help those already working in Greater Manchester, or those looking to work in the city region, to advance their skills and careers, as well as enabling the Greater Manchester Combined Authority to deploy its resources more strategically

Josh Graff, Country Manager, LinkedIn UK commented: “Our goal is to create economic opportunity for everyone in the global workforce. We have worked with the Greater Manchester Combined Authority to support policy-makers with unique insights into the labor market, enabling them to reinvent their skill’s policy. The findings on tech skills will help shape Greater Manchester’s action plan for the job growth predicted in this sector over the next decade.”

“Not only is Manchester a thriving European hub of digital and tech talent” said Claire Braithwaite, Tech Advisor at Manchester Growth Company “but the city is increasingly attracting talent from around the world.”

“These latest reports demonstrate what we already knew about Manchester, that it’s one of the most exciting places for leading digital talent in the world today. There’s real opportunity here for innovators to thrive, in addition to the infrastructure in place to ensure that the city’s trajectory continues.”

Some of the technology districts Manchester has developed include:


MediaCityUK is Europe’s largest purpose-built hub for the creative, media and tech industries. A centre for innovation, it is home to an exciting mix of world-class businesses, including global brands such as the BBC and ITV, over 200 creative and tech businesses and the University of Salford’s digital campus. The site offers access to one of the most advanced communications networks in the world and the infrastructure has been developed to cater for the bandwidth-hungry requirements of businesses of the future.

Amongst the 26 BBC departments based in MediaCityUK is the Connected Studio project. Connected Studio, as part of the BBC's Research and Development department, provides the inspiration, support and platform to help keep the BBC at the cutting-edge of online innovation, and a world leader at delivering engaging, digital broadcast experiences.

Corridor Manchester

Corridor Manchester is at the heart of Manchester’s knowledge economy, with an area of 243 hectares and a workforce of 58,000, generating £3bn GVA per annum. It is home to two of the UK’s leading universities The University of Manchester, and Manchester Metropolitan University, and the Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust – making the Corridor not only the largest academic campus in the UK but also the largest clinical academic campus in Europe with world leading strengths including health informatics. The next 10 years sees committed and planned investment of the major institutions estimated at £1.5billion.

The CityVerve

Manchester’s CityVerve Project, a collaboration with Cisco, Manchester Science Partnerships, Manchester City Council, MMU, Manchester University and Future Everything, was the winner of a £10 million, government-led technology competition. The project’s goal is to improve services to citizens across the city through Internet of Things technology. The program includes initiatives such as talking bus stops, which let bus drivers know when commuters are waiting, lamp-posts which monitor air quality, and networks of sensors in park benches that encourage people to engage in more physical activity.

NOMA & The Northern Quarter

NOMA is a 20-acre mixed use redevelopment project that combines culture and commerce in a sustainable way. It is also home to the headquarters of the Co-operative Group, the UK’s largest mutual group which is owned by over 8 million members and can trace its roots to Manchester’s Rochdale Pioneers.

Nearby, in the Northern Quarter many formerly deprived industrial spaces are seeing new life as creative playgrounds where tech incubators, contemporary artists and bohemian culture intertwine.

The Sharp Project

The Sharp Project is home to over 60 digital entrepreneurs and production companies specialising in digital content production, digital media and TV and film production. It’s based in a 200,000 sq ft refurbished warehouse previously occupied by electronics company Sharp, It offers flexible office, production and event space at affordable prices.

Attending SXSW?

Manchester can be found at Stand number 1113 at SXSW

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Shirar O'Connor
Conway PR & Marketing
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