Author: Sam Wason, Managing Director, Cathcart Associates

As a business that chose to open its second UK office in Manchester over other UK tech hubs, we have come to learn that where you are plays a major part in the opportunities you embrace.

Manchester has become the North’s beating heart for creative and digital industries, making it a hotbed for cutting edge start-ups and technology businesses.

On top of a buzzing community and countless resources to help start-ups get their feet off the ground, Manchester has also seen significant government investment in its transport links, making it an ideal location for businesses looking for easy access to cities like London, Leeds or Edinburgh.

As a local IT recruiter, we find ourselves at the centre of the city’s bustling tech scene, so here’s our take on what you need to know about setting up a digital business in Manchester.

1. Support

The launch of the BBC’s MediaCity has made Manchester a rival contender to other cities like London when it comes to the film, media and creative sectors. Its success in these industries means that many investors keep a close eye on what’s going on with a view to targeting investment at the region.

There are a wide variety of options for businesses looking for funding support. North West Fund, for example, has supported more than 440 businesses with over £153m of investment, while the government backed, Manchester Business Loans offers funding that ranges from £3k to £100k.

Angel investment can also be found in the area through the likes of North West Business Angels and Co Angel Investment.

If you are after business support then the city’s wide range of incubators and accelerators do much more than just offer a workspace, for example, Innospace provides mentoring, HR and financial support. Idea Alive is a start-up accelerator that helps companies develop ideas, commercialise them and scale them up. Organisations like Manchester Digital also offer valuable guidance to founders coming up against common start-up hurdles.

2. The community

A booming social scene coupled with countless meet-ups for all specialisms has created a vibrant, entrepreneur friendly culture in Manchester – a great source of support to younger firms.

Tech Events North West, for example, creates a calendar brimming with a variety of events and socials, while Manchester Tech Nights is renowned for its informative meet-ups.

Making an effort to reach out to other businesses through meet-ups and conferences is a great way to establish yourself, particularly if you are new to the scene.

Furthermore, Manchester is home to several major technology companies, like Fatsoma, TheLadBible, and The Hut Group. Many are heavily involved in the business community and offer a valuable glimpse into some of the UK’s most prominent IT companies.

3. Co-working spaces

There are a number of co-working spaces dotted around the city that offer support to fledgling start-ups and SME’s.

Using a co-working space is a great way to feed off the entrepreneurial spirit of others and many spaces encourage collaboration, networking and a bit of healthy competition.

SpaceportX houses some of Manchester’s brightest start-ups and is committed to helping businesses grow by hosting weekly networking events. SharpProject’s 200,000 sq ft warehouse is home to over 60 digital businesses and production companies. and The Landing is a digital enterprise hub based in the MediaCity for gaming entrepreneurs and start-ups.

4. Access to talent

As well as being to home to five universities, Manchester has attracted a workforce from all four corners of the globe, giving businesses access to a diverse network of talent.

Recruiters based in the city, such as ourselves, have extensive experience and knowledge of the industry and of best practice when it comes to recruiting. With strong links to skilled IT professionals, recruitment firms can help local companies find the right people for them, meaning they can spend more time on other aspects of their business.


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