13 July 2017

A week on from Andy Burnham’s North West Digital Summit in Manchester, the dust has settled and we can finally see what we need to progress.Andy Burnham and Lawrence Jones UKFast at Manchester's digital summit

Whilst Andy’s team work through the finer details of the workshops and feedback, I saw three clear themes emerging from the day.

For me, it was clear; collaboration is essential.

We heard throughout the day how Silicon Valley is leading the world when it comes to collaborating. Why can’t we do better? We have these incredible communities at the Sharp Project, Media City, the Northern Quarter. What more can we do to enhance collaboration between the businesses here and between the hubs? We’re incredibly fortunate to have a city centre that you can walk from end to end, and transport links that can get you to Media City in a matter of minutes. Are we making the most of it? In London, it took me more than an hour to get from Mayfair to the Shard yet we still talk about London being better connected!

An active effort to connect the dots

This leads into the second takeaway: we need to connect Manchester’s hubs. It’s more than collaboration; it’s an active effort to connect the dots. That’s why events like Andy’s summit are so essential. We need to bring together the groups within our digital industry to establish what we really need to drive our region’s digital future.

The talent pipeline

Of course, the third requirement is skills. The talent pipeline is an undeniable concern across our digital community and it has been for years. We’ve talked about the skills gap for so long, whilst it is still an issue, it’s clear we’re making huge progress. You only have to look at the likes of The Juice Academy or own commitment to apprentices. Manchester Digital has just announced a new push for apprentices too. The business arena is tackling its own problem and now the Greater Manchester Combined Authority are now sharing their intentions to help the cause.

With Andy already delivering on his campaign promises for the digital sector, I hope that this is a real catalyst for change going forward.

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