Region cements its national status as outstanding tech hub

Manchester remains the fastest growing tech hub in the North West and one of the biggest outside London and the South East, according to new figures.

Its tech companies raised a record £532m of funding in 2022, a 50% increase on 2021’s figures.

The new data comes as Tech Minister and co-chair of the Digital Skills Council, Paul Scully, joins Manchester’s Digital Skills Festival.

He will host top tech executives from Nexer, AutoTrader and to discuss how the Government can continue supporting the tech industry across Manchester and the North West.

Mr Scully said: “Manchester’s thriving tech start-up scene is packed with innovation, fuelled by record levels of funding from 2022 and is outperforming much larger cities on the continent.

Paul Scully MP

“There are huge opportunities in this city to forge a high-skilled, high-paid career in tech, and my discussions with the region’s business leaders will inform our work to grow the talent pipeline so these industries of the future continue to shine on the global stage.”

Manchester has emerged as one of the dominant tech hubs in the UK in recent years.

There are now more than 1,600 start-ups and scale-ups in the city which are employing an estimated 60,000 people, according to Dealroom. Collectively these companies have raised more than £1.8bn in venture capital funding in the past five years and last year tech companies in the city raised more than European capital cities including Lisbon, Rome, Brussels and Warsaw.

From energy to security, transportation to fintech, Manchester’s tech scene is widespread and varied.

Electric vehicle charging company BE.EV raised a record £110m in October 2022, to expand its public EV charging infrastructure across the country and make it easier for people to switch to electric cars and vans.

The Modern Milkman, a start-up that delivers plastic-free fresh milk and groceries to people’s doors, also raised £50m to transform consumer habits, while Freedom Fibre raised £84m in May to power its roll-out of high speed broadband, with an aim to connect two million businesses to affordable full-fibre internet, in partnership with Salford-based TalkTalk.

These are just some of the businesses in Manchester that have been named as futurecorns – fast-growing tech companies that are expected to be worth more than $1bn in the future. Manchester has now produced eight futurecorns and six unicorns – private companies worth more than $1bn – including connected car data platform Wejo, fintech Interactive Investor and data centre provider TelecityGroup.

There are more than 50 start-ups and scale-ups in Manchester focusing on edtech and skills training, to upskill and reskill the workforce for the expanding sector.

Northcoders was founded in 2015 to train people for careers in software development and data engineering. More than 1,500 people have graduated from its courses, with companies such as The Co-Op Bank and Footasylum recruiting graduates.

Tech and leadership programme Academy is also focused on giving new graduates the skills they need to succeed in the tech industry while Accelerateme provides support and guidance to future entrepreneurs from The University of Manchester, University of Salford, Manchester Metropolitan University and the Royal Northern College of Music.

Digital skills companies also provide training in the soft tech skills companies of all sizes need. Arctic Shores, which recently raised £5.75m, aims to become the market leader in hiring for potential and soft skills to help organisations open up their hiring pools and build diverse, successful workforces. It counts companies such as Siemens and Airbus among its clients.

Across Manchester, corporates such as Siemens and TalkTalk are competing with start-ups for talent to grow their business. According to smarter job search engine Adzuna, around 25% of all available jobs in the city are in tech, with nearly 6,000 available roles last month.

This is an increase of 67% since 2020. It’s not only job roles that are going up but also salaries with the average advertised tech salary up five per cent since 2021. Some of the top hiring companies in Manchester include professional services firms such as PwC and Deloitte, financial services such as Lloyds and NatWest and IT infrastructure company Softcat.

The main tech roles companies are looking for include: Software developer; data engineer; devops engineer; project manager; and business analyst.

Katie Gallagher

Katie Gallagher, MD at Manchester Digital, said: “The Manchester tech sector continues to flourish and innovate, and our Digital Skills Audit 2023 finds sentiment broadly positive for the year ahead.

“As a not-for-profit independent trade body, we work incredibly closely with the tech sector to support it with skills programmes, such as our Manchester Digital Academy, which offers Level 4 tech apprenticeships, which are developed and taught by tech businesses. The annual Digital Skills Festival brings together the leading tech businesses with the future tech stars of tomorrow, as well as announcing the results of our Digital Skills Audit 2023.”