24 March 2017

andy burnham ukfastIt’s a breath of fresh air to have a leader coming out and putting tech at the centre of everything.

Candidate for Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham came to UKFast Campus this week and made his intentions for growing the city’s digital industries clear.

We’ve been saying for some time that Manchester has the potential to be the number one tech city in the country for quite some time, so that fact that Andy’s saying he wants to be the number one tech city in Europe is music to my ears!

Whilst our capital is an extraordinary hub for business, we need to invest in the rest of the country to ensure that it doesn’t reach burnout point. Manchester is the ideal candidate for this and it has a number of significant advantages over London; in its locality, its connectivity and in the relative costs of launching a startup. There’s a hunger here that I’ve never felt anywhere else. It was here when I moved into the music industry, where people were expressing their creativity. That’s now been transposed into a new area – technology.

Manchester is home to some of the best ecommerce businesses in the UK and many of the fastest growing startups: The Hut Group, Little Black Dress, Forever Unique, Social Chain, Lad Bible.

It’s all very well wanting to be the best but ultimately you have to address the pitfalls or weaknesses that you have. The big area causing a bottleneck is that we’re not creating the right type of talent. That’s why we’re working with 57,000 kids and around 50 schools in Greater Manchester and why we’ve established Tech MCR as a hub dedicated to digital development in the city.

For me, it was great to see Andy Burnham say immediately and without any prompting that he wants to significantly boost the quality of digital education in schools and put a big focus on technical education as an alternative to university. It’s exactly what we need to tackle the skills gap and equip our young people with the skills they need to keep our economy growing.

It’s a great moment for Manchester. We gain so much by being able to make our own spending decisions locally, as opposed to being governed by Westminster, simply because they’ve got their own priorities.

It’s great that the potential new mayor is meeting businesses like ours, asking what we think and learning about the position we’re in.

I’m an adopted son of the city and I’m very proud of the situation we’re in. I’ve enjoyed building my business here and I’m looking forward to building it to 1000 people and beyond. I hope to see Andy as Mayor helping us and other businesses alike to achieve this.

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