THURSDAY 5 JAN 2017 2:27 PM


When you think of Manchester, it’s likely a plethora of popular cultural icons spring to mind. Oasis, the Smiths, legendary artist L.S. Lowry, and author of A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess, are all notable figures hailing from the Northern city. While such figures have been instrumental in placing it on the UK cultural map, competition from London sees Manchester's reputation as a business-oriented city less well-discussed. Yet this may be set to change in the next few years.

A report published by independent trade association for the North West’s technology sector, Manchester Digital, says 77% of those working in the digital sector in Manchester view it as a digital hub. Furthermore, career progression is good and the city boasts a diverse array of industries in which digital is utilised.

With 300 digital professionals surveyed across Manchester, the reasoning behind business relocation was concise and detailed. Increased investment, heightened awareness of the city’s facilities and a desirable living environment have all been instrumental in encouraging businesses to set up in Manchester. In 2016, Manchester was voted ‘Most liveable city in the UK’ for the second year in a row; in terms of digital companies, the city boasts every sector from retail to transport to telecommunications and more.

Digital networking is also a major draw for those working in the sector. Many cultural and digital events are held across the city annually, including Girls Who Code, a monthly meet-up to encourage more women to join the digital sector and Northern DPM, a regular meet-up for digital project managers working in Manchester.

In the report, Kate Gallagher, managing director for Manchester Digital, says, “As the independent trade association for digital and technology businesses in the North West, we know that the lifestyle here is second to none and that Manchester is home to some of the most progressive technology companies in the world."

Gallagher continues, “The statistics within this report support our views and paint a picture of a city that is prosperous; one whose digital sector is booming and one that is attracting people from across the UK and Europe.”

Increased interest in Manchester has also been enhanced by a drastic drop in affordable homes across the traditionally digital- and media-heavy landscape of London. Of the 300 professionals surveyed, one in five had moved to Manchester from the capital. Further, 80% of all respondents were not native to the city and had in fact moved to Manchester from elsewhere in the UK. Rent is considerably lower and, although salaries are on average lower away from London, the difference this makes is negligible given the overall standard of living.

And, with four in five of those surveyed saying they would recommend working in the city to a friend, perhaps a word-of-mouth pattern will begin to take effect on the city’s population.

While Oasis and the Smiths exist no more, it is likely Manchester’s already thriving cultural and arts scene will see a significant boost if relocation patterns are to be believed. Digitally at least, this trend is already on an upwards trajectory; the calendar of events is full for anyone who makes the move ‘up north’.