Grants of £2m each have been awarded to create two new technology business hubs in Manchester – with a goal of creating and sustaining 2,000 jobs over the next decade.
The funding, which is being allocated by Manchester City Council, was awarded to the city by the government’s Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS.)
The city was awarded £4m in grant funding to be used to secure and refurbish a city centre property with facilities to host and ‘incubate’ entrepreneurs and small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) working with developing digital technologies – helping start-ups to get on their feet and existing businesses to grow in an initiative called Project Forward.
But following a procurement exercise, in which expressions of interest were invited, it was decided that splitting the grant between two tech hubs would provide the best value for money and maximise the benefits for the city – together providing 140,000sq ft of floorspace, twice that originally envisaged for a single tech hub.
Bruntwood/Manchester Science Partnerships (MSP) and Allied London Properties Ltd were judged to have the best proposals and scored equally. Following discussions, both applicants confirmed they would be able to proceed with their schemes if they received £2m and DCMS approved the combined award.
The Allied London tech hub will be located in Enterprise City, St John’s (on the former ITV Granada site) as part of 600,000sq ft of digital and creative tech space. It would focus on the retail, media and TV sectors.
The Bruntwood/MSP tech hub will be located in Oxford House, Circle Square (on the former BBC site) as part of a major new tech and science business destination. It would focus on data science and technology innovation.
Sir Richard Leese, Leader of Manchester City Council, said: “Manchester is already a nationally and internationally significant centre for digital and tech businesses. Support for start-ups and growing businesses in this sector will both help create jobs and stimulate further investment. Manchester is determined to be in the forefront of the digital revolution and these two new tech hubs will make a key contribution and ensure that the £4m funding we were awarded has the best impact possible.”
Tech North and the Manchester Growth Company will be involved in the continuous support of the development of both hubs, and assist in the management and monitoring of performance.
Anne Dornan, Head of Innovation at Manchester Science Partnerships, said: “This award is wonderful news for Manchester as a leading location for digital innovators to create and grow brilliant technology businesses.
“The city has a flourishing and diverse tech community. Our amazing partnership which includes Manchester Digital Complete Resourcing and the city’s universities brings together the complete package of specialist services needed for business success.
“Start-ups and scale-ups will have better access to talent and skills and to new sources of funding ensuring that tech entrepreneurs can fulfil their growth potential.
“We will work together with the local tech community to create a home and showcase for Manchester's digital sector which will inspire international attention, drive jobs, and inward investment in the most exciting and disruptive sector of our economy.”
Michael Ingall, chief executive of Allied London, said: “Enterprise is one of the three backbones for our St Johns neighbourhood where a variety of workspace infrastructure will be developed.
“Having established a platform for tech-enabled businesses in Spinningfields, via our XYZ building and with our operating platform Hellowork already establishing OGSWorks , recently shortlisted in the top three co work hubs in the UK, the grant as part of Project Forward will now be used to create. develop and evolve a much larger focused tech infrastructure platform within Enterprise City for digital-enabled enterprises specifically in the Media Retail and TV and Film industries.
"This grant will enable us to establish Enterprise City as an international brand attracting much needed talent and capital to develop Manchester as a city for the digital world “