Tech Nation and the View from the North

Richard Gahagan, CEO, We Are Adam, reflects on the recent ‘Tech Nation 2016’ report and what it says about the North digital tech cluster.

The North was once a key driver of the industrial revolution and now the Northern Powerhouse is establishing itself as a leader in digital innovation.

The region itself has a range of sector expertise, from games to Healthtech and E-commerce. Notable cluster cities include Hull, Leeds, Liverpool and Manchester and the region boasts 283,515 Digital Tech Economy jobs.

According to Tech City’s report ‘Tech Nation 2016’ the average advertised digital salary for the North is £42,000 and each cluster is showing significant growth in areas such as employment, turnover and GVA (Gross Value Added which measures the contribution of each economic unit).

Key benefits of operating within the North as a digital business are listed as the access to local networks, access to commercial property and access to graduate level talent. Liverpool benefits from The University of Liverpool and Liverpool John Moores University attracting some of the UK’s top talent and produce capable and employable graduates. There is fantastic co-working spaces providing assistance to start-ups including The Sharp Project and Innospace in Manchester and Campus North in Newcastle. Newcastle also boasts the second highest salary growth of any city in the UK at 26.6%, continuing to build on its tech history.

The report notes that the key challenges faced by the region are limited access to finance, low sector awareness, weak economic climate and digital infrastructure as well as limited talent supply. There is clearly work to do on the region however Hull is improving access to loans for start-ups and putting measures in place to address the challenge of accessing finance as well as digital tech businesses in Newcastle & Durham are more likely than those in any other cluster to receive support from an accelerator.

Manchester is well established as a Northern hub for tech and digital with a growing number of businesses establishing themselves outside of London. Growth for the region is no doubt set to continue and the UK as a whole notwithstanding the potential ramifications of a Brexit vote.

As one of the UK’s leading digital recruiters, we are finding that there is an increased number of candidates looking to make the move between London and Manchester. Well established clients in the digital sector are able to offer a vast array of digital and tech jobs. Couple this with cheaper housing and a fantastic culture, it is easy to understand why more and more are looking to make the move up North. With the addition of the HS2 linking us to London, clients will find it easier and easier to engage with the agencies of the North if they themselves aren’t looking to set up home here too.

Impacting factors to the area include Google opening its first ever Digital Garage in Leeds last year, which has supported over 3,000 businesses in 7 months. Liverpool enjoys some of the lowest commercial and residential property rents in the country providing value for money for both businesses and individuals. Manchester was recently awarded £10 million as Innovate UK’s IoT City Demonstrator in partnership with Cisco.

Putting all this together it is no surprise that the region is thriving which has to be a good thing for the UK economy and career prospects for future generations. We are proud to play a small part in the continuous growth of the region.

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John Rudkin 4 Years Ago - Edited
Great flag waving article. The move of the BBC to Manchester has had a significant impact, developing a media cluster in Salford that is rapidly maturing into a mini tech and digital accelerator which is growing its own cultural effects on business and education. We must never forget the pioneering work the region has contributed to UK economics, and that influence still underpins the area's success. The significance of the Digital Leaders establishment in Manchester (in the NW) is important. If you were part of the important growth in the region, and can contribute - join us.