The Rise of Manchester: How to get the most out of Northern England

When I received an invitation to DIT’s pre-Slush evening “Scale your business to international success” at the British Embassy in Finland, a wave of curiosity hit me. With so much happening in the political arena, what is the current offer for foreign companies? What does it take to start a company in the UK? What are the business opportunities beyond London?

With these questions in mind, I went on to network with a friendly bunch of people attending the event. It turned out that many Finnish companies consider the UK market to be one of the most promising destinations in Europe to expand and grow their business.

And there is a good reason for that. Tech is one of the fastest-growing sectors of the UK economy and the second-biggest economic contributor. The UK offers a large, digitally advanced market where consumers and businesses can test and launch their products. Tech scene in London prospers and attracts companies, tech conferences and VCs from all over the world.

However, beyond the crown jewel of London, one should not overlook the crown prince, Manchester.

The city is an innovation hub for the Northern part of the UK. Being the largest economic force in the North, the city further prospers being part of the Northern Powerhouse, a cluster of 15 million people with Government investment into the infrastructure and development. It’s been reported that Greater Manchester, which has a population of 2.6 million, will receive £130.1 million boost for the “Northern Powerhouse” in 2017.

Interestingly, if Northern Powerhouse were a country, it would be the 10th largest economy in Europe.

Manchester is the second largest tech cluster in the UK. Its ecosystem has a number of unique features that makes it different from other cities in the UK and offers the opportunity to go global.

Firstly, Manchester is the second most popular destination for foreign investors in the UK. In 2015 the city was ranked 23rd in the world for investment, outperforming New York, Beijing, Berlin and Toronto. In addition, Manchester is a home to world’s top companies like BBC, Cisco, IBM, Microsoft and Google and over 5000 other creative and tech businesses

Secondly, with over 100,000 students the city is a real goldmine for talent. The School of Computer Science is the largest and longest established school of computer science in Britain. Manchester University School of Economics is ranked number 1 in Post Graduate and Doctoral programs. This is why the region is particularly strong in sectors like media, fintech and education.

Thirdly, running operations in Manchester is nearly 24 percent more cost-efficient that in the capital due to lower rents and labour costs.

Finally, it is really easy to get around. Manchester is located close to the other vibrant cities like Liverpool and Leeds, and just couple of hours away from London on a train. Manchester also has an international airport with over 200 daily flights.

When you have made the decision to establish your business in the UK, Manchester with all its opportunities, ecosystems, and infrastructure is a good place to settle. There are a number of organisations that can help you with relocation and expansion. One of them is MIDAS – inward investment agency that helps businesses and foreign investors to establish operations in Manchester. Finnish companies can also get help at the UK Department for International Trade in Finland. They can help you with everything from finding the right partners to navigating the details of setting up or expanding your business in the UK.

Thumbnail photo by Stacey MacNaught