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Tech firms seek to create Northern rival to Silicon Valley

Some of the region’s biggest tech companies are putting pressure on the next Greater Manchester Mayor to “turbocharge” the Northern tech economy to create a rival to Silicon Valley.

Manchester Digital, the industry body, which has members including BT, and Auto Trader has outlined how this could happen in its Manifesto for the Northern Tech Economy,

Published today, it explains how establishing a Northern Tech Nexus would link tech leaders across the North in a “groundbreaking partnership” to rival the likes of Silicon Valley and the south-east’s Silicon Fen.

“With the right investment, organisation and collaboration, northern cities have the potential to become Britain’s biggest tech hub,” stated Alison Ross MBE, chair of Manchester Digital’s board and Chief People and Operations Director at Auto Trader.

“As the representative of the city-region with the largest digital economy and the most developed devolved political arrangements in the north, the Mayor of Greater Manchester should instigate the creation of a Northern Tech Nexus with the aim of establishing a new global tech ecosystem that would serve as a counterpoint to the dominance of London and the South East.”

It also calls for an annual international Northern Tech Summit and the creation of a Regional Digital Investment Fund to support start-ups and scale-ups.

“We see an opportunity to build a powerful northern tech ecosystem with Greater Manchester at its heart,” added Katie Gallagher OBE, Managing Director of Manchester Digital.

“We want to work closely with the Mayor to create a combined northern approach to tech growth and innovation, harnessing core strengths across different city-regions to propel future growth on a larger scale. The recommendations in our Manifesto focus on the achievement of that goal, boosting innovation and skills in the process.”

The Manifesto also looks at how to foster innovation and growth, through  tax breaks for start-ups and scale-ups; education; supporting initiatives to grow diversity; and inclusion in the sector and how to support spinouts from universities. 

It also wants to lobby for Apprenticeship Levy reform to unlock more funding for businesses to grow and to earmark funding to develop industry placements for the new Mbacc qualifications. 

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