21 June 2017
“London is better connected than Manchester for startups.” Joining a round table to debate Manchester’s future as a digital city yesterday, this was said by one of the panellists.
I couldn’t disagree more! It took me more than an hour to travel from Mayfair to The Shard recently, it’s absurd! Whilst our capital is, of course, the country’s business hub; travelling around London is a nightmare at the best of times. Manchester beats London for startups every day of the week, so does Leeds. The Northern Powerhouse isn’t a distant concept, it is happening and businesses themselves are driving it.
If I am honest, it’s old hat for businesses to look to London to start up now. Think about it, it’s irrelevant where you put an online business; it’s not a matter of ensuring you’re on the London High Street or in a hub in the capital anymore.
Almost 30 years ago, I put my first business in Manchester because it’s the centre of the UK and it’s so well connected.
However, I can agree that we need closer links between the various hubs in Manchester – The Sharp Project linking to Media City, to the city centre, etc, and this was the general feeling in the room at the event.
Surrounded by Manchester business leaders and startup entrepreneurs, it was clear that Manchester is thriving. The business community here is extraordinary and is continuing to grow and evolve. That can only be a good thing for London. The capital is overpopulated and expensive; its resources are under an incredible amount of strain. Manchester is taking some of that strain and giving fledgling businesses opportunities without charging London property rates or salaries.
If you need to plug into a business community, look further afield. Look at Leeds, Sheffield and Manchester. When you grow bigger, then you could look into getting a London presence, but the communities here in the North are just as strong.