An alliance of northern tech businesses, including BT, and Auto Trader, are calling on the Mayor of Greater Manchester to seize the opportunity to turbocharge the northern tech economy with the creation of a body to boost skills, innovation and investment across the region.

The new Manifesto for the Northern Tech Economy, created by industry body Manchester Digital and supported by tech leaders across the region, calls for the formation of a new Northern Tech Nexus of key city-regions – led by Greater Manchester – which would coordinate efforts between political, academic and business leaders to create a powerful pan-regional tech ecosystem.

The Manifesto also calls for the establishment of an annual international Northern Tech Summit and the creation of a Regional Digital Investment Fund, which would supercharge global capital support for start-ups and scale-ups.

The firms also call for targeted support for industrial placements – including through the proposed Mbacc initiative – to inject a wave of new engineering talent into the northern tech economy.

Alison Ross MBE, chair of Manchester Digital’s board and chief people and operations director at Auto Trader, said:

“With the right investment, organisation and collaboration, northern cities have the potential to become Britain’s biggest tech hub. As the representative of the city-region with the largest digital economy and the most developed devolved political arrangements in the north, the Mayor of Greater Manchester should instigate the creation of a Northern Tech Nexus with the aim of establishing a new global tech ecosystem that would serve as a counterpoint to the dominance of London and the South East.”

Katie Gallagher OBE, managing director at Manchester Digital, said:

“We see an opportunity to build a powerful northern tech ecosystem with Greater Manchester at its heart. We want to work closely with the Mayor to create a combined northern approach to tech growth and innovation, harnessing core strengths across different city-regions to propel future growth on a larger scale. The recommendations in our Manifesto focus on the achievement of that goal, boosting innovation and skills in the process.”

The Manifesto points out that the total student population at universities in Manchester, Leeds, Liverpool and Sheffield amounts to well over 250,000, which dwarfs that of the Oxbridge universities which total around 60,000.

A report created by Barclays Eagle Labs shows that there are 708 high growth tech companies across Manchester, Leeds, Liverpool and Sheffield and that the four cities combined saw over £1.1bn in investment collectively over the past five years. Greater Manchester already has a strong tech sector, which includes ecommerce, Fintech and health tech. 


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