Regional tech business hail potential of investment zones and deeper devo

Katie Gallagher, Manchester Digital

The technology sector in the North West expressed excitement at the focus on measures in the Budget to support investment zones and the potential of the trailblazer deals in city regions.

Katie Gallagher, managing director of Manchester Digital and chair of the UK Tech Cluster Group, said Investment Zones have the potential to better enable collaboration between tech firms, industry and academic partners. 

“Our members welcome news around Trailblazer powers for Combined Authorities in Greater Manchester. More local control of resources and responsibilities for skills funding presents a huge opportunity to harness the potential of learners and better align skills and talent to the needs of employers in growing and fast-moving sectors like tech,” she said. 

But she was cautious about the issue of tax credits policy.

“The tech industry as a whole was hoping for more than a partial reversal of the previous reduction of R&D tax credits incentives to encourage SME innovation in a difficult economic climate. It’s of vital importance to allow early-stage startups and innovators to flourish and grow their companies.” 

North-West based value telecoms provider, TalkTalk, welcomed measures announced in the Budget to allow local decision-makers to control more of their own spending, as well as investments in AI and tech, and measures to help bring new skills back into the workforce.

Tristia Harrison, chief executive of TalkTalk Group, said: “For levelling up to work, local leaders need to be able to provide local solutions to grow the economy and answer their specific local challenges. So today’s measures are a welcome step in giving more responsibility for local economic development to local authorities and more certainty via multi-year funding settlements.

“As a proud Greater Manchester based business, we look forward to continuing to play our part in growing both the local – and national – economy. Programmes such as ‘returnerships’ for over-50s will help to bring much-needed skills back into the workforce; and as a tech-based business, we also welcome the increased investment in AI and innovation accelerators, providing funds for both the businesses and job creation of the future.”

Shaun Gibson of Manchester based ISP provider Telcom, welcomed the Government announcement on Investment Zones, but called for a shift of emphasis on digital infrastructure. “It’s great to see the Government investing further in these northern regions, recognising the talent we have in the north’s tech, academic and creative industries. But it also needs the digital infrastructure in these major northern metro areas too. Ensuring we have hyper fast digital connectivity across Greater Manchester  is crucial to achieving levelling up. We will be working closely with Government locally to support those key growth sectors – technology, creative industries, life sciences, advanced manufacturing and the green sector.”

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