Watch out – Silicon Manchester is coming

Manchester is on the verge of becoming the next Silicon Valley according property experts in the city – and in London.

The latest Savills “Manchester Office: Market Spotlight” report revealed that the city had seen a 20% increase year-on-year in the take up of office space with sector insiders believing expansion will result in significant employment growth in the next five years.

Meanwhile, commercial property company Colliers International has also reported that 40% of office space enquiries are from the tech sector.

Manchester is already home to 52,000 tech workers, the largest tech force outside London, with the fourth-highest digital turnover in the UK at £2.9bn.

Property specialists say the growth opportunities are primarily the result of the ongoing Northern Powerhouse initiative which is supporting growth in different sectors across Manchester, particularly the tech industry.

Chief executive of Properties of the World, the London-based firm of property agents, Jean Liggett, said: “Things are changing fast in Manchester, giving the city the very real potential of becoming the next Silicon Valley.

Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham has pledged his commitment to creating a world-leading tech hub and a growing number of tech start-ups are already snapping up office space around the city.

The digital tech growth potential of Manchester is due to be further enhanced by the major expansion of the BBC recently announced.

MediaCityUK, already the BBC’s second home in Salford Quays, will welcome 200 new employees this year.

In addition, Indian company, 42Gears, which specialises in professional mobile software is setting up a European technology and innovation base in Manchester city centre.

Peter Gallagher, director, national offices at the Manchester office of real estate advisors Colliers International, said: “Tech founders love the entrepreneurial nature of Manchester.

“There were nearly 2,000 start-ups during 2016 – a 10% increase on the previous year and well above the average for the rest of the UK with many of them from the tech sector.

“The commercial property sector understands the specific requirements of tech firms and can accommodate everything from co-working to pro-working.

“The tech and digital enterprise sector now has critical mass in Manchester with more than140,000 employed making it the second city for tech industry after London.

“This creates a maturing ecosystem of innovation and support, greatly shortening the time from start-up to scale up.

“It’s no wonder three so-called ‘unicorn’ private companies with a valuation of $1bn or more have come from within or close to the city and some of the most successful tech IPOs of recent years also hail from the city region.

“With top universities, a truly cosmopolitan city centre leisure and music scene and a rapidly growing housing stock, Manchester is just a great place to live, learn, work and play.

“Attitude works for tech and so does sport and we have both in spades. Years ago Tony Wilson said ‘this is Manchester – we do things differently here’.

“My favourite quote of the moment is ‘Manchester is a city that thinks a table is for dancing’.”

Liggett added: “Interest in Manchester is growing stronger and stronger as the city enjoys a bright economic outlook.

“Savills has predicted Manchester to be in the top five fastest growing cities from 2017 to 2021 which in turn is boosting demand for housing and investment properties which we, through our wide portfolio of opportunities, are able to answer.”