Manchester: where the digital revolution boosts productive property investment

Look to the future economy to see the future for property

When it comes to solving the productivity conundrum that is holding back economic growth in the UK, the government is so keen to invest in new technologies – they are the ones that are most productive. And, as we discussed in an earlier article, ‘How does productivity fit into the property investment equation?’, where there is a road to better productivity, there could be a road to property investment profits.

Manchester’s digital economy is leading the way. It shouldn’t come as a surprise. Manchester has a rich tradition of being at the forefront of economic advancement, stretching all the way back to the Industrial Revolution.

But does the city have what it takes to become a global digital leader? Can it get the public and private sectors investing and working together? These are just a couple of the questions that this article answers.

The political will is evident

It is going to be crucial that politicians get their act together, on a national and local level, to get productivity going again. The devolution of financial power from central government to Manchester City Council should help in this process. Earlier this year, ahead of Manchester’s Digital Summit, Manchester’s Mayor Andy Burnham said:

“I want Greater Manchester to be a digital city with a difference – one with a bold digital economy which actively encourages businesses to invest and grow, and also one where technology is used to deliver positive change, from connecting young people with opportunities to tackling social problems such as homelessness. This bold vision places the needs of people firmly at the heart of technological innovation.

“We’re already ahead of the game on this. Right here in Greater Manchester, we are on the digital frontier with some of the most cutting-edge tech firms in the world.  It gives us a remarkable opportunity to take that expertise and innovation and work with local people to create a smart digital future which has a unique Greater Manchester stamp.

“We want to fuse technological advancement with culture, ethics, communities and places to build a world which is connected, creative and cooperative, and a modern and prosperous Greater Manchester where no-one is left behind.”

There is no doubt that the political will is creating a tailwind of investment driving Manchester’s tech economy forward.

Manchester leads Premier League football, but how is it doing in the tech game?

As I write this, Manchester’s two football teams are number one and two in the Premier League and cruising through their UEFA Champions League qualifying groups. But it’s not only football that Manchester is excelling in. The city’s tech economy is thriving. Here are some stats from Tech Nation that will get property investors licking their lips:

  • The average advertised salary in the Manchester digital economy is £47,349
  • There are 62,653 people employed in the digital tech sector in Manchester
  • The digital tech sector produces £2.8 billion of GVA to Manchester’s economy every year

Manchester is home to the largest tech cluster outside London. And that GVA number is growing at quite some pace – up 144% since 2010, and on a rising trajectory.

Start-up success could be the key that unlocks the wealth bank

Despite the success to date, and Manchester’s ability to attract so many leading tech firms to the city (such as AO.com, Auto Trader, LateRooms, BBC, and Boohoo), some believe that Manchester won’t have taken the tech world by storm until it produces a home-grown mega tech success. For this to happen, start-ups are key. And Manchester is not disappointing here.

Manchester has lower costs than London, but it also has a unique entrepreneurial spirit, and access to an incredible talent pool (thanks, in part, to an exceptional education offering, itself driving profitable Manchester property investment). Another thing that attracts start-up companies here is dedicated tech space and funding. It includes:

  • The Sharp Project, SpacePortX, and Innospace Manchester.
  • Two new tech accelerators have been launched (Wayra and Ignite)
  • £2 million funding for the creation of two new tech hubs
  • Mi-IDEA, a new facility for tech start-ups and entrepreneurs, is soon to open
  • The £235 million Sir Henry Royce Institute for Advanced Materials Research and Innovation is expected to open in 2019

Also, there is also £4 million government funding for Project Forward. It is designed to help nurture start-ups, and encourage collaboration and inward investment as well as develop and retain the country’s best software entrepreneurs and engineers.

The result? In 2016, there were an amazing 898 tech start-ups in Manchester. No wonder Manchester has recently been named in the top 20 of the European Digital City Index for starting and scaling a digital tech business.

Manchester is a smart city attracting the best in the business of tech

The government has also channelled £10 million into the CityVerve project. It is helping to recreate Manchester as one of the world’s leading cities. The Internet of Things is redefining transport in Manchester as smarter and cleaner, making the city an even better place to live, work, play, and do business.

Transport isn’t the only infrastructure to be getting the tech treatment.

A web of connectivity providing exceptional insight and funding for tech businesses

Have you ever sat in front of your computer at work and been frustrated at its slowness? Or been busy researching a project at home, and struck down by the connection collapsing? Manchester’s powers that be have realised that internet connectivity is a key requirement to attract digital and tech businesses.

Manchester is the first UK city outside London to have hired WiredScore, a company that rates how well each building is connected.

And this connection doesn’t just extend to the internet. Manchester is putting a lot of effort into linking tech companies to Manchester’s universities, business accelerators, and grants.

Is Manchester perfect for the productivity push to drive property investment potential?

Tech companies are flocking to Manchester. When asked by Tech Nation, tech entrepreneurs have cited their reasons for starting up here as including:

  • The tech sector growth potential
  • Quality of life
  • Strength of the local digital economy

However, it isn’t without its challenges. Chief among these is a lack of supply of skilled workers in a rapidly growing sector, and retention of those workers because of competition in the sector.

The property investment potential of a productive city

Manchester’s vibrant tech sector is pulling in highly qualified professionals. The city is expected to have one of the highest population growth rates in the UK over the next decade and longer. But it’s not only work encouraging people to move here:

  • Housing and rents are more affordable
  • There’s a great retail offering
  • The nightlife is one of the most eclectic in the UK
  • The quality of life, and work/life balance is second to none in the UK

Is Manchester the perfect place for property investment? It may very well be.

To discover some of the best off-plan opportunities in Manchester, contact one of the Gladfish team on +44 207 923 6100. Getting in early could help you to push your investment returns even higher.

Live with passion,

Brett Alegre-Wood

About the Author

Brett has over 20 years experience in all facets of property, he owns various companies centred around property and is the driving force behind the education and training at Gladfish. His companies have sold over £850 million in UK and London property and he manages over 1200 properties through his estate agency chain. Today he shares his time between UK, Australia and Singapore. He is married to Arlene and together they have 4 kids.

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