‘The Shoreditch of the North’: Manchester start-up growth boom here for the long haul

Traditionally few would argue that London has been the centre of the UK for all things business, and many commenters continue to berate the unfair advantages handed to companies based within the capital.

However the tide may well be turning, as the city of Manchester is quite aptly becoming known as the “Shoreditch of the North”, and if recent company formation statistics are to be a sign of thing to come, the flourishing city of Manchester, where start-up growth seemingly knows no bounds, could well be set to stay.

Let’s start by taking a look at the most recently available stats from the Office for National Statistics; between 2013 and 2014 there was a jump in the number of entrepreneurs who registered a company, rising from 346,000 to 351,000 (a rise of 1.2%). 

This latter figure was heralded as great promise for the UK’s financial outlook as it stood at the largest number ever record since records began back in 2000.

Fast forward to 2016 however and Greater Manchester has put in a stellar performance of 7.29% that far outweighs the measly national average growth change in the number of newly registered businesses (which is 1.2% for 2014, as compared to 2014). 

Making up this figure are particularly impressive entrants of Rochdale and Tameside, which account for 10.19% and 9.03% percentage changes respectively.

Just what is behind the explosion of business beginners in Manchester?

There are arguably many factors at work behind the scenes of these stats, and here we drill down to each of the leading factors.

The access to business support in Manchester has transformed over recent years with two accelerator hubs and five science parks to its now newly shiny commercial name.

Incubators include Innospace, which provide flexible desk and office solutions from £50 a month and invaluable support, and UMIC, which provides biotech and hi-tech companies with a ‘vibrant supportive environment’. 

There is also a new, eight floor incubator which has attracted £4m of public funding and will feature within Federation House. Added to this will soon also be the Barclays Escalator Accelerator, which already has hubs in New York, London, Cape Town and Tel Aviv.

Manchester has also become known as a leading digital and creative start up centre, where Media City UK is the hub for innovative young companies that are at the forefront of the digital scene.

On a more generic note for fledgling entrepreneurs is the issue of company formation; no longer does company formation command a pile of papers and long drawn out procedure. 

Today, it is easy (as well as faster and cheaper) than ever before. Many online companies, such as Company Formations 24.7 present a single, online destination where a company may be registered in practically five minutes flat.

Many experts have noted that the difference between a previously heavily industrialised city, such as Manchester, and their transition into a buzzing city of prospect, lies in the talent of the younger generations who can innovate and strike up businesses for the modern market.

On this front, it seems, Manchester provides for much, being home to five universities and a 36.3% of the population who hold NVQ 4 level qualifications and above ( 2015).

Manchester has and continues to attract much investment within the development and regeneration of areas, with Salford, Ardwick and the City Centre itself undergoing significant makeovers and development.

Add to this the planned Manchester Airport City Enterprise Zone, which will surround the £800m expansion of Manchester Airport, and this area looks set only to become ever hotter property for the business start-up.

Manchester makes for a seriously attractive option for companies seeking out grant and funding access. 

Such options include the North West Fund, which provides for £155 million investment funding for tailored support and long-term growth for SMEs; The Greater Manchester Investment Fund (GMIF), which covers businesses that may experience difficulties finding traditional forms of finance and Manchester Business Loans which is a Government funded option for those seeking out loans ranging between £3,000 and £100,000.

A further attraction that have proved to be irresistible for many an entrepreneur moving into the City of Manchester has been the quality of life. 

It is known as a vibrant entertainment capital with venues including Manchester Albert Hall, the Palace Theatre, and the Phones4u Arena stadium, as well as boasting the Manchester Northern Quarter, which serves up plenty for culture vultures. 

This city’s appeal equally seems to be reflected within the house prices, which consistently outperform other cities of comparable size.

Image courtesy of Stacey MacNought, via Flickr, with thanks

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