A group of independent experts say Manchester is currently the second largest digital cluster in Europe after London and has the potential to become one of Europe’s most important digital centres.
A report by Oliver and Ohlbaum Associates has looked into the city’s ability to compete with some of the world’s leading digital hubs and concluded that Manchester has the building blocks in place to become a success.
The report, prepared for Manchester City Council, says the city has work to do to achieve its ambition to be a leading global digital city but concludes that with the right set of focused interventions it is possible for Manchester to be a competitive, global digital content hub by 2025.
The report praises Manchester’s ‘get it done’ attitude, the ‘Team Manchester’ ethic which encourages local successes to support others from the city, and says there is genuine momentum in the city, with the relocation of the BBC to MediaCityUK having had a significant impact on region’s digital and creative sector – which will go on to provide future growth.
It also draws on the importance of the city’s industrial, scientific and cultural heritage, its position as the birthplace of the first computer as well as the home of modern innovations such as graphene.
The report says that the UK’s position as a major exporter of digital content provides an important opportunity and adds that Manchester – as the second city – has good momentum and a grounding to take advantage of this.
It adds that Manchester must capitalise on the existing resources in the city and should use The Sharp Project as a blueprint for future growth.
However, the report goes on to say that in order to succeed, the city faces significant challenges and it is currently ‘not that well placed globally’ however, if Manchester can make sure more people have access to IT education and skills development, the city continues to invest and more technical innovations can be attracted to Manchester then the city can ‘catch up’.
Councillor Nigel Murphy, Manchester City Council’s executive member for the environment, said: "Manchester was at the centre of the industrial revolution, and we believe our future lies in us being at the vanguard of the information age. This report states very clearly what many of us had already suspected – that we have the tools in place to become a truly global centre of excellence to fulfil our ambitious strategy.
"The report highlights we are well placed and some of the steps we’re already taking to cement our position as one of Europe’s most significant digital hubs. However, just as importantly, it points out some of the challenges we need to overcome if we are to compete globally, and we believe we’re in an excellent position to meet those challenges over the next few years.
"We have strong digital skills thanks to our universities and a pool of talented people which we nurture through ecosystems such as The Sharp Project – which is so successful it is now expanding - while the recent announcement of £12m investment from the Urban Broadband Fund means the city will soon become much better connected. But we have more to do to support the economic growth and future jobs we are capable of delivering in the digital sector."