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Manchester - a digital powerhouse where tech is reimagining the urban landscape

JLL is immensely proud to have partnered with Tech Nation to launch its annual research report, Tech Nation 2018, at its first major event since the organisation came into being in April this year.

October 02, 2018


Once Manchester was defined by its manufacturing past, but we're now witnessing it play a key role in the fourth industrial revolution, delivering the new digital age.

This is a city that has plenty going for it. It produces world-leading research on topics including machine learning, its universities produce an enviable pool of talent, and living costs are significantly cheaper than London.

In turn, we're seeing Manchester transform into a £3.2 billion tech powerhouse, home to both entrepreneurs and start-ups.

This balanced mix creates a network that offers the mentoring new businesses need to thrive, and we've seen a 130% increase in new tech firms forming in the city between 2011 and 2016, according to the Tech Nation report.

Fashion tech companies are big business. Online retailer boohoo.com is based in Manchester, while PrettyLittleThing was ranked as the fastest growing fashion brand on the web, according to a report based on data from 3 million UK users. UK Fast are another Manchester tech success story and there are many others set to follow in their footsteps.

There is plenty of evidence that the growth of tech is transforming Manchester's urban landscape. The city has seen over 100,000 sq ft of tech and media take-up in the first half of 2018. This has been fuelled by the growth of tech start-ups & SMEs but also inward movers including Money Supermarket, On the Beach and Booking.com.

The city's manufacturing heritage has consistently placed it at the forefront of change. Now it is perfectly poised to take advantage of the fourth industrial revolution, which will see technology transform all our lives.

We're already seeing this reflected in the type of office space people are seeking. The arrival of WeWork, a US company that provides office space on flexible leases, gives small tech firms the opportunity to work alongside and learn from entrepreneurs in a creative environment. Cisco's Mi-Idea incubator at Manchester Science Park's Bright Building is also testament to this.

While other large property developments being marketed to tech companies include: Bruntwood's Circle Square, Allied London's Enterprise City and Hermes's NOMA; all providing interesting places and spaces for tech companies to grow and flourish.

The latest Tech Nation report also includes a survey of 3,400 people working in the digital economy nationwide. They were asked for their thoughts on the future of the sector in the city.

80% of the tech community are optimistic about the city's future growth prospects and 62% thought there were opportunities to scale.

As we move forward, there is a huge opportunity to harness Manchester's creativity and take advantage of all the fourth industrial revolution brings.

This article was written by James Devany, Director - National Office Agency Manchester