New tech funding to boost startups in the North
UK chancellor George Osborne’s £11 million budget pledge will support new technology companies in the north of England.
The budget investment pledge for incubators is a welcome investment for startups in places like Manchester, Leeds, and Sheffield, which have seen huge rates of growth in the technology sector.
Ed Vaizey, the minister for digital economy, said: “Manchester, Leeds and Sheffield have already shown that they are playing a key role in the development of the digital economy.”
“Together with the TechNorth programme announced last year, these new hubs will bring tech entrepreneurs under one roof to share and develop their talents and ideas,” added Mr Vaizey.
This new round of government funding will be used for tech incubators, providing the space and funding for start-ups to collaborate with each other and receive support.
Huge growth in northern tech industry
When Nick Clegg initially revealed the TechNorth initiative, which was set up in the autumn of last year in order to promote the growth of tech companies in the north of England, it was estimated that there were approximately 200,000 ICT jobs in the region.
From 2010 to 2013, digital employment in Greater Manchester increased by 70% whilst growth in Hull increased by 57% - and in Liverpool, this figure was an astonishing 119% increase. It is clear that northern England has a vibrant tech scene that is set to grow even further.
Kenny Sendel, chief technical officer of Leeds-based company thebigword, said: “The UK is in a purple zone right now regards to technology and demand is massively outstripping supply.”
He added: “The consequence of this is that the traditional technology hot spots, such as London, are extending out to all regions, including the North, to access much needed technical expertise. It’s important that Northern businesses grasp this opportunity for growth.”
Further action could help development
With over 20,000 tech companies and 170,000 employees in digital business across the region, this investment could not have come at a better time; however, some believe that it is not the only thing that the government could be doing.
Emanuele Angelidis, CEO of Breed Reply, said: “Some additional actions promoted by the Government could also help to increase economic growth.
“Other measures might include fiscal benefits for start-ups, incentives for the development of technology skills among young people, and the creation of marketplaces involving all the main stakeholders, including Government, investors and entrepreneurs.”
Kenny Sendel agreed with the idea that the government could be doing more, but felt that the focus could be more on education.
“Companies will go wherever they can access pools of talented people,” he said, adding: “The North can become the "silicon valley" of Europe by offering free university for those studying technology subjects.”
Whether measures like these are instated or not, it seems clear that the north could soon be on its way to catching up with London’s tech sector.