All you need do is cast your eye around the thriving businesses in Manchester, walk amongst the plethora of independent shops and bask in the limelight of the growing MediaCity to know things are changing here.
A city with such a fierce entrepreneurial spirit that 2.4 per cent of the population launched their own business in 2012 – during some of the toughest economic times.
As those in the capital face ever increasing costs and challenges, which dampen startup culture, entrepreneurs have started to look north.
Manchester provides a haven for businesses in a city where resources are plenty and costs are low. Approved Index caught up with some of the city’s most successful SMEs who told us why they chose to launch their business in Manchester and why they feel other businesses should follow suit. With a long history of driving business and innovations, as the birthplace of the computer and the origin of the industrial revolution, Manchester is now pregnant with opportunity for businesses and here’s why.
Companies benefit from Manchester’s access to spectacular talent, with three excellent universities (one being the largest campus in Europe) and a student population in excess of 100,000 – all within arm’s reach. With more students choosing tech degrees, this serves as an opportune time and place to snap up talent in an industry where demand far exceeds supply.
Additionally, business overheads and cost of living are far lower in Manchester than in London and the south east, which increases its desirability especially for startups. More graduates are opting to launch businesses in Manchester, thus growing a community of exciting new ventures and creating a business hub. Already the BBC, Google and The Co-Operative have moved large offices and divisions to the city.
“The abundance of untapped talent in the city is unparalleled. Manchester is on the cusp of breaking out, with all these creative people located in such small proximity and the many computer science graduates coming from three world-class universities. We have a lot of young people hungry to prove themselves,” said Andrew Ko, CEO at Moment.us.
“Manchester is a young and vibrant city, the three universities combine to bring an influx of new talented people every year with many staying on. The population is growing and the city thriving,” added Dan Clarke of Junk shop.
Manchester is the second largest city economy in the UK and there is a huge opportunity for businesses to capitalise on its resources and market. It has a refurbished and extended tram system, exceptionally fast links to other cities – including a two-hour train ride to London, and a large international airport flying to over 220 destinations. It offers businesses a nationally and internationally connected location with a large and diverse UK market on its doorstep.
“The Northern Quarter, I personally believe should (and will) be the country’s next ‘Tech City’ ” Ko added.
“There’s a fantastic tech scene epicentre around spaces like the brilliant SpaceportX, MadLab and others that means knowledge spreads fast because you’ve got a load of intelligent people in close quarters sharing information. It’s an amazing place to live. There’s something to suit any lifestyle with the bars, restaurants and cultural sites,” said Andrew Allsop, marketing manager at Fatsoma.
As London prices drive out creatives and start-ups, the relatively low cost of living in Manchester, coupled with its lifestyle and cultural pull draws in those with big ideas and smaller budgets. Manchester is a creative and digital businesses hub, where talent congregates and communities shares ideas and inspiration. It is fast becoming the place where agencies, artists and digital start-ups look to call home.
“Manchester is a city of innovation and risk taking. It is constantly reinventing itself and this presents new and exciting opportunities for businesses based here,” commented Ali Gunn, marketing manager at Fred Aldous.
Jeniya Marsh, PR and marketing manager at The 8th Day, said: “Manchester is a vibrant and resilient city and has a long history of influencing social change and radical ideas.”
Manchester’s flourishing startup scene has led to local and national government increasing business support and investment in the area. The British library has launched a Business & IP Centre and the Manchester Central Library created a centre to support entrepreneurs across the North West with space, resources and workshops. There are various investment funds, loans and schemes available to give new and small businesses a better chance and to provide them with the nurture they need.
“There is integration of so many small food businesses, entrepreneurs, local producers, street food vendors – we all support each other, trade with each other and have grown our businesses together,” revealed Claire Kelsey, owner of Gingers Comfort Emporium.
“Manchester people are fiercely proud and wonderfully pragmatic. We love to support our own and we welcome new ideas and run with them,” concluded Clare Simpson, marketing and digital manager for Manchester Craft and Design Centre.
Trilby Rajna is an editor at Approved Index.
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