14 March 2014

I had to have a bit of a laugh yesterday when a few of the team read about Boris Johnson’s comments on London being an unrivalled global tech hub. They’d seen it before I had so there were some seriously sheepish faces when they brought it to my attention; I think they were convinced I’d explode!

What’s ironic is that Boris made the comment at the launch of a ‘Tech Hub’ workspace for entrepreneurs, but then actually admitted to forgetting “how to get” apps. How can one of Britain’s most ‘untech’ people claim to know what kind of environment fosters tech innovation? Personally, I think Manchester is a much better incubator for tech talent.

Whilst I concede that London might be the centre for banking and culture, it won’t be the city housing the data centres in the future. They haven’t got the room for expansion and the prices are off-putting, especially to start-ups. I think Manchester will win the race by default as it’s more central than London. We’ll be able to serve data more quickly in the years to come, proportionally speaking.

Manchester is where the creation and innovation is happening. It’s where it’s always happened! It’s where the first stored-programme computer was created and where graphene was discovered; if you removed every piece of technology that came from Manchester then I don’t think the world would be the place it is today.

I think Boris enjoys the limelight and his comments are ultimately to get PR and to get people talking about him; it’s just rhetoric. The people responsible for making a city into an amazing tech hub are the innovators within it, not the politicians. Time will tell, but perhaps if London does want to be taken seriously as a global tech hub it should consider who its mayor is and choose an entrepreneur who understands cutting-edge technology…

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