The groundwork for a digital city region

Julia Spurrett of Fieldfisher with Lour Cordwell and Michael Taylor

Lou Cordwell provided great insights into the development of the creative tech sector in the city region at the latest of our breakfast events with law firm Fieldfisher, held in their fantastic 17th floor office in Spinngfields.

The Salford-born entrepreneur, and now visiting Professor, told the the story of how she created her own agency, Magnetic North, in the late 90s, after realising that her ambitions to build amazing things on the early internet didn’t fit with what her then employer WPP was capable of delivering.

After building mN, as it was often known, she was encouraged by former Granada TV managing director Sue Woodward to step up into the civic conversation and almost inducted into the Manchester family, tasked by Sir Howard Bernstein to bring people together in an industry he admitted he needed to learn more about, but knew it would be central to the city’s success.

She also reminded everyone of the role played by Tony Wilson, another Salfordian, not just in music, but as a digital pioneer. How he worked hard to bring tech people, creatives and music industry types together in the later iterations of his iconic In the City convention before his tragic death in 2007 at the age of 57.

Those efforts played a huge role in the laying the groundwork for the BBC to move whole teams to the north, she said, ironically in a project codenamed Magnetic North. Notably, the digital research team that invented the iPlayer.

But she ended with a look to the future, as she works in her new role at the University of Manchester to advise Professor Duncan Ivison as he prepares to take over as President & Vice-Chancellor from Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell.

“A lot of people talk about an inclusive economy, but in Manchester right now we have the opportunity to do something special that can create an economy that could be the model for the rest of the world.”