During our visit to Huckletree, we spoke to Tony Walker, deputy Director of the Masood Centre based in the Alliance Manchester Business School.
The centre does three things, it teaches entrepreneurship,it does entrepreneurial training, for example thru hackathons, drop in events and workshops, and where they will tie into Huckletree, they help start up businesses on campus.
“One of the things we are looking out for,” Tony tells us “are new spaces to move their startups into the City and help them grow and expand.”
Tony is very enthusiastic about the new space.”I think the equation is going in the right direction, a lot of our graduates gravitate to London because of the jobs, salaries and headquarters of all the major players…..It’s good that London is coming to us and that is a recognition that we have the skills and businesses in Greater Manchester”
“There is a really vibrant scene”, he continues, you can do business in Manchester as well as you can in London, but for economic conditions we are better positioned than the south, in terms of property prices, cost of living and workspace”
“I think Manchester as well is developing a separate global identity to London….If you combine the tech, we have a leading edginess”
The University has in the same spaces, business developing around Graphene, around Arts and Culture, around social impact where businesses are developing ways of impacting some of the problems that Manchester has including homelessness and deprivation.
“Manchester doesn’t want to be a place where you have got disadvantage at a great level, people have a conscience and want to work in a space that is tackling those problems”
But there are still barriers, “we are nowhere near a finished product, says Tony.There are numerous issues to tackle, the conflict between old and new, between established communities and new.
There needs to be more investment into start up businesses, ” a huge amount of money stays in London and the South East… The good thing about Huckletree coming is not just that they bring their space an people but also their connections.Once they get to know what good stuff is here, they will bring more of that”
Manchester also has some of the issues of a big city.”We have to be careful that things don’t become too homogenised and we look like everyone else”
Manchester needs to look at its identity going forward and decide how its going to position itself.
Tony made the point that the City region is a huge melting pot now of different cultures, particularly in the Universities.The problem was how to keep people here and spaces like Huckletree would help because in his experience they will create community.
“Beautiful spaces are great but you need the people in them”
These spaces he added will teach you what business is about, but it will be a shared experience, people will have done it before and they will help you.