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Manchester Council chief expects city to become a 'global digital leader' 14 October 2016

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Manchester has seen a real change in its business sectors in recent years, becoming a digital powerhouse in UK terms.
Few cities in the UK have managed to have such a positive and significant impact on the business sector as Manchester has in the last few years. The rise in the trend for ‘Northshoring’, where companies and organisations such as the BBC move their operations to the north, has meant that Manchester has been able to embrace a new era of businesses and skills previously confined to the south bringing their operations into new areas of the country.

And now, one of the city's local leaders has predicted that Manchester will continue in this vein for some time to come, with the potential to expand its media and technology offerings, which will allow it to become a world leader in digital business terms.

Sir Howard Bernstein, Manchester council chief executive, who has been behind many of the regeneration and rebuilding projects in the city over the last two decades, told the Guardian that he expects to see Manchester become a global force in the not too distant future.

“Over the past 40 years, I’ve witnessed a dramatic change in Manchester’s local economy. But today, the city is on the verge of assuming its potential as a global leader in the digital economy," he said.

The city already has some momentum in this regard, with TechCrunch stating that Manchester has more employees in tech (51,000 plus) than any UK city outside London, and with a £4 million grant designed to create a tech hub in the city centre that would help with collaboration and the growth of smaller tech firms, the potential for growth is endless.

There could also potentially be a swell in demand across Manchester in coming years from companies looking to work in more innovative and digitally-developed cities, with Manchester recently having won the right to become the UK's first demonstrator for the technological capabilities of the Internet of Things (IoT). The Manchester project, known as CityVerve, was chosen as winner of the competition thanks to a strong proposal by a hugely creative, multi-sector team from across the industry, academia and public sector. The winning partnership included Manchester Science Partnerships (MSP), which is part-owned by Bruntwood, and will headquarter the project at their No.1 MSP base.

The CityVerve Project was chosen as the winner of a £10 million government fund for tech advancement. It will see the city improved by the introduction of a range of exciting new IoT technologies, including quirky installations like talkative bus stops, which let bus operators know when someone is waiting, and sensors built into parks and other spaces to encourage people to do more physical activity. The technology will also be used to improve the efficiency of buildings and equipment like streetlamps, vehicles and heating and cooling systems.

“The public and private sector has to work together to ensure that every Mancunian business has the opportunity and resources to reach its potential," said Sir Howard, as he backed a campaign that looks to promote the links between Manchester universities and businesses to promote skill sharing and the employment of exciting young digital graduates.

Speaking of the fantastic tech performance in Manchester, Jessica Bowles, Bruntwood director of strategy, said: "Tech is really strong in Manchester and underpins progressive businesses in all sectors of the economy from e-commerce to finance, we see that in both Bruntwood and at Manchester Science Partnerships, in which we are the major shareholder. At Bruntwood we have a number of growing tech businesses who have thrived in the city thanks to the talent being produced by our local universities and the support given by the wider business community."

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Manchester cityscape
Manchester cityscape