Inward investment agency creates record number of jobs

Tim Newns

Figures released by Greater Manchester’s inward investment agency, MIDAS, show that the agency supported the creation of 4,380 jobs across the city region in the last financial year, the highest number of jobs created in MIDAS’ 22-year history, generating £311m GVA.

MIDAS, which works on behalf of the 10 local authorities of Greater Manchester and is part of the Growth Company, is responsible for attracting investment to the city region that ultimately creates jobs.

The agency’s record performance comes amid a challenging and uncertain economic outlook due to Brexit, with foreign investors’ sentiment towards the UK as a place to invest being lower than it has been for many years – therefore, Greater Manchester is bucking the trend.

The city region attracted investment from world-leading global brands across all its key sectors – creative digital and technology, financial and professional services, advanced manufacturing and life sciences.

The creative, digital and technology (CDT) sector performed the strongest in relation to job numbers, accounting for almost 50% (2,056) of the annual figure, showing the continued dominance of the sector in Greater Manchester’s current economic growth.

Key projects included Amazon and Jaguar Land Rover, both of which have established tech innovation centres in the city region, creating 800 jobs between them. Another 22 CDT firms chose to invest in the city between April 2018 and March 2019, including Hewlett Packard Enterprise and TalkTalk.

Technology also drove a surge of job creation within the financial, professional and business services sector, with more than three times the number of legal and ‘FinTech’ roles created, rising from 121 in financial year 2018 to 400 this year.

Overall, this sector was responsible for more than 20% (967) of the jobs created, including at Virgin Media and Clydesdale Bank.

Driven by the opening of the Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre, attracting the interest of international materials companies including Flexigraph and First Graphene, the advanced manufacturing sector saw a 20% increase in the number of businesses choosing to locate in Greater Manchester in financial year 2019, resulting in more than double the number number of jobs being created – 1,040 compared with 446 the previous year.

Within the life sciences sector, international health giant Qiagen confirmed it would expand to a purpose-built genomics campus, creating an additional 250 jobs and supporting overall GVA of £39m for the sector.

Tim Newns, MIDAS chief executive, said: “MIDAS has been able to work even more proactively over the last two years to continue to stimulate the market and build a strong investment pipeline against continuing challenges in the form of the uncertainty created by Brexit.

“Much of this is thanks to additional investment from the Greater Manchester Combined Authority and MIDAS’ private sector developer partners.”

He added: “Greater Manchester is building a strong reputation as an innovation hub and there is now the opportunity to build on recent high-value investment from organisations such as Qiagen, GCHQ and Amazon – to attract more of the same, but also to attract the supply chains that operate around these businesses.”

Sir Richard Leese, leader of Manchester City Council and deputy mayor for business and economy, said: “Greater Manchester has built a strong, global reputation as a leading hub for multinational companies and innovative start-ups.

“The news of the city region’s success throughout the last 12 months follows a number of announcements from firms choosing to establish or expand operations within Greater Manchester, demonstrating that we are swiftly becoming a go-to destination for the world’s most innovative and exciting companies.”