The growth of digital technology in our great city regions


The digital technology sector is currently the fastest growing sector in the UK. Over 1.6 million people in the UK are currently working in the industry, with tech investment reaching over £6.8 billion. The latest Tech Nation report revealed that the number of digital tech jobs has grown at more than twice the rate of non-digital tech sectors, and is showing no signs of stopping.

Across the country, we’re seeing the way we live, work and communicate change due to developments in technology. As these advancements come faster and faster, globally, it’s important that we work together to stay at the forefront of these changes.

In Manchester, the CityVerve smart city demonstrator project is having a huge impact on the way our city operates, as well as creating a blueprint for smarter cities across the UK and the wider world. The project was awarded to Manchester by Innovate UK and is headquartered at Bright Building on Manchester Science Park. The progression that comes out of this project will provide great benefits to residents, workers and visitors in the region.

CityVerve is aiming to build and deliver a smarter, more connected Manchester, through the use of Internet of Things technologies, to help meet the complex needs of its people. Driven by a team of experts, including 21 global technology partners from SMEs to large internationals, CityVerve will encompass projects covering everything from transport to healthcare.

Katie Gallagher, Managing Director at Manchester Digital, said: “CityVerve is a great example of where co-innovation works, with various stakeholders involved, but it helps the small start-ups as well, as they think about creating innovative products and services for markets they might not have considered before. It’s really helping to push our companies forward on the innovation agenda.”

Through their commitment to improving city liveability, CityVerve will help to build a happier, healthier population, with a strong sense of community. And it is strong communities which are a focal point in the digital and tech sector.

We recently sponsored Liverpool’s Binary Festival, giving tech workers and businesses the opportunity to connect and find opportunities for innovation and growth. The festival showcased the vast, flourishing talent that Liverpool and the North has to offer when it comes to digital and creative. Bringing these people together, facilitates the building of a community which will help to mould the vision of Liverpool.

Next week sees the start of Leeds Digital Festival, which we’re proud to be sponsoring for the first time this year. Similarly to Binary Festival, this event will demonstrate the fantastic digital work coming out of Leeds and promote the talent and expertise embedded in the city. Together, festivals such as these help to showcase our city regions, and the UK as a whole, as great places for growth and investment.

The opening day of Leeds Digital Festival will see the launch of our newest tech incubator at Platform, and we’ll be hosting a wide range of events in the building throughout the festival. The new tech incubator space will be home to Leeds’ newest tech community, providing workspace for start-ups and growing businesses in the digital technology sector. Customers will also benefit from a programme of business support from a range of national and local partners offering advice and expertise on access to finance, talent and markets.

Mark Walsh, Founder of Kwizzbit and customer at Platform, said: “[Platform] wants to build a tech hub full of creative individuals that want to collaborate and innovate from the inside out to put Leeds on the map.”

At MIPIM last month, we announced the addition of Innovation Birmingham to our portfolio, as we work to drive the growth of the Campus and its impact on Birmingham as a whole. With over 72,000 digital jobs in the West Midlands, the sector is vital to the continued success of the region.

Chris Oglesby, Chief Executive of Bruntwood, said: “Our acquisition of Innovation Birmingham forms a key strategic component of our wider science and technology business and enables us to share knowledge and expertise across these sectors. We understand the importance of engaging with key partners, acknowledging that what we can do together would be so much greater than we could ever hope to do on our own.”

Looking forward to the future, it is anticipated that the sector will contribute £200 billion to the economy. To do this, we must ensure that digital and tech businesses are given the right conditions to thrive. We will be bringing this to life through the development of great communities like those at Manchester Science Park, Alderley Park and Innovation Birmingham, as well as continuing to support fantastic arts and cultural projects across our city regions.


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