Manchester is a city that is accustomed to rapid change. Although once a global centre for industry, particularly within chemicals and textiles, the city entered a rapid decline following the deindustrialisation of the 1980s, before reemerging as a hub for services in the 1990s.
These days, the city’s renaissance is unlike anywhere else. It has recently been ranked as one of the fastest growing cities in Europe, as well as the world’s most “hipster city”, and the most fun place to live in the UK.
Part of this renewal has been driven by the rise of the tech industry in Manchester, which has brought with it thousands of high paid jobs and rapid urban regeneration. Today, Manchester employs close to 80,000 people in the wider tech industry, one of the highest numbers relative to the population in the whole of the UK.
That figure is growing rapidly, with the city on track to be one of the leading places for European tech in the next five years. Whilst Manchester’s economic reconfiguration undoubtedly started with the establishment of the BBC headquarters in Salford, the process has been accelerated thanks to a highly educated population and the efforts of the local authorities to attract tech companies to the area.
Just recently, e-commerce giant Amazon announced plans to open up their first overseas ‘innovation centre’ in the Hanover Building in the heart of the city’s Northern Quarter. The move will bring over 600 high-paid tech jobs to the city, whilst supported hundreds more in companies connected to Amazon.
More off-the-radar developments include the creation of jobs in creative tech roles such as the iGaming industry. Playtech, one of the leading providers of online casino games in the world, now operates a hub in the city in collaboration with home-grown casino game developer Intelligent Gaming. Growth in this industry, in particular, looks promising in the years ahead. The advent of so-called “free” casino gaming bonuses, which allow customers to play for real money without wagering their own cash, has spurred a massive boom in the UK digital casino industry.
Of course, free has different meanings when it comes to casinos, given that many leading Playtech-supporting platforms require players to make a deposit beforehand, but the popularity of these bonuses mean that many more such jobs may come to Manchester in the future.
In a similar vein to the collaboration with Playtech and Intelligent Gaming, partnerships between large corporations and smaller companies will be key to the growth of Manchester’s tech scene. Another recent example is the ‘digital partnership’ between the Co-Op and the Manchester Growth Company, the latter of which is receiving support and resources from Co-Op to grow their digital marketing strategy.
Meanwhile, Japanese media giant Sony has just set up shop inside Salford’s Media City and are actively recruiting hundreds of software developers to help grow their UK operations. Likewise, Sainsbury’s have launched their own marketing campaign in the city as part of their drive to hire 300 software developers within the next year.
There are many similar initiatives currently in the works, so stay tuned to find out how Manchester will become the country’s leading tech hub in the years ahead.