Manchester retains place as UK’s top tech city outside London

The latest UK Tech Cities report by real estate advisor CBRE confirms that Manchester has retained its number one spot as the leading tech location, outside London.

Birmingham was placed second in the rankings, followed by Glasgow. Liverpool was placed at 12th spot.

The report follows on from similar rankings in 2017 and 2019 to establish the top 15 tech destinations outside London, to inform the decision making process of both occupiers and investors.

Factors determining the rankings included access to skilled talent, availability of office space, proximity to institutions providing high quality tech education, cost of living and cost of employment.

Manchester’s top rating was boosted by its office market’s size and the access to a high quality workforce.

The city has long been established as a hub for creative industries, with 5,725 tech companies located in Manchester, the highest of any regional city.

Much of the tech occupation in Manchester is located in either The Northern Quarter or MediaCity, Salford.

Its tech scene spans many subsectors of the industry. The BBC’s decision to move around half its operations to MediaCity in 2011 marked a hugely significant moment for Manchester as a centre for content creation and they were quickly followed by ITV.

In addition to TV and film, online retail is another particularly active sector in Manchester. In 2014, two local unicorns conducted IPOs – Bolton-based electronics retailer and Manchester-based fashion retailer, testament to Manchester’s ability to nurture and grow start-ups.

John Ogden, Manchester managing director, CBRE, said: “An important factor in Manchester’s appeal to tech occupiers is the presence of world class educational establishments, most notably The University of Manchester’s Department of Computer Science, the birthplace of the modern computer.

“An ability to tap into a highly skilled graduate population has been a key driver for many multinational software and data companies in their decision to locate in Manchester. Notable examples include Cisco (Didsbury) and IBM (Sale).

“Looking ahead, Manchester seems well placed to maintain its position as the UK’s pre-eminent tech city outside of London.

“New developments such as Manchester Goods Yard and Bruntwood SciTech’s development of Circle Square have attracted global attention with companies such as ROKU and Cloud Imperium recently taking space.”

Mike Gedye, head of tech sector vertical, CBRE, said: “Across all cities, the UK tech sector has seen significant growth over the last decade and shown it is far from being a fleeting trend – but here to stay.

“Resilience over the pandemic period has proven to investors that venture capital funding into the UK tech sector will deliver success. Tech companies are now more than ever competing for the best talent and post-pandemic have broadened their horizons in hiring a more distributed workforce and will drive a new era of regional tech demand. The regionalisation of the tech sector beyond London and the South East will also be critical to sustain the UK’s ability to innovate and compete on the global stage.”

Jen Siebrits, head of UK research, CBRE, said: “As the industry begins to accept that unlocking potential female talent will be key to the success of businesses and locations, initiatives are being put in place to address this imbalance.”