When you talk UK tech, more often than not, you're talking about companies based in The Big Smoke. However, contrary to popular opinion, London is not the only home to some of the UK’s most promising startups. While London remains at the top of the funding pile, new research by the DCMS shows that when it comes to the North, Manchester is the number one tech hub, and its tech companies raised over half-a-billion in funding over the course of 2022.
Comprising EV charging company Be.EV’s £110 million corporate round provided by Octopus Group to high-speed broadband provider Freedom Fibre’s £84 million funding round in May 2022 and Modern Milkman’s £50+million collection over a venture, non-equity assistance, and Series C rounds in 2022, Manchester is undeniably on a roll.
"Manchester has evolved from a city whose digital sector was largely agencies and a tiny cluster of startups, to one where the number of high-quality startups and founders is high and the buzz around the local tech scene feels justified," says PreSeed Now founder and 25-year resident of Manchester Martin SFP Bryant.
There's more choice when it comes to locally-sourced investment than there used to be, and Manchester founders engage with national and international investors with more confidence and credibility now. It's taken a long time, but I no longer have any trouble to find investable startups to write about on my doorstep."
According to Dealroom data, Manchester is home to no less than 1,600 startups, employing some 60,000 people. Over the past five years, collectively these companies have seen over £1.8 billion in venture capital flow into the greater Manchester area.
With these figures in mind, this puts Manchester-based startups and scaleups, in terms of capital raised, ahead of major European cities including Rome, Lisbon, and Brussels. This also allows the Warehouse City to hold on to its crown as the fastest-growing tech hub in the North, and one of the biggest outside London and the South East.
While the South might have the upper hand when it comes to brand recognition, The North isn’t taking this reputation lying down and is remaking itself and preparing for the future, today.
With over 50 startups and scaleups in the greater Manchester area focusing solely on edtech and skills training, we’ve seen a marked upskilling and reskilling campaign that’s resulted in around 25 percent of all available jobs in the city devoted to the tech sector, with established titans including Siemens and TalkTalk competing with startups for homegrown talent.
“Manchester is consistently one of the strongest cities when it comes to tech hiring in the UK,” says job search engine Adzuna Chief Customer Officer Paul Lewis. “Technical roles continue to top the job lists such as software developers and data engineers but more general roles such as project managers and business analysts are also in high demand. This demonstrates that workers with relevant experience from other sectors can find the right opportunities in tech to suit them.”
Commenting on the region, UK Digital Economy Minister Paul Scully concludes, “Manchester’s thriving tech start-up scene is packed with innovation, fuelled by record levels of funding from 2022, and is outperforming much larger cities on the continent.
There are huge opportunities in this city to forge a high-skilled, high-paid career in tech, and my discussions with the region’s business leaders will inform our work to grow the talent pipeline so these industries of the future continue to shine on the global stage.”
Lead image: Mylo Kaye