Manchester MP John Leech has defended Nick Clegg’s plans for TechNorth after the idea was slammed by Manchester tech businesses.
The concept of TechNorth was proposed by the Deputy Prime Minister as part of his Northern Futures proposals, and intends to bring together the digital technology industries from across the north of England.
TechNorth would work through UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) to harmonise the tech clusters in Manchester, Sheffield, Leeds, Liverpool, and the North East.
John Leech told MM: “Manchester has proved itself to outperform other cities as the hub of the north.
“Connecting Manchester better to the other cities will help other cities grow while making sure Manchester continues to grow and maintain its position as a key economic driver for the north.
“If you look at London, massive investment has gone into London to help the economy continue to grow.
“We’ve not had a repeat of that in the north until this government showed a commitment to investing outside of London and the South East.”
It is hoped that TechNorth would have the same level of success as Tech City in East London.
Mr Clegg claims that he wants the project to ‘create a northern tech hub to rival Berlin, New York or Shanghai’.
Businesses will be given access to capital and it is hoped that TechNorth will link start-ups and potential investors.
By strengthening networks in this way, the coalition government hopes that that the project will help attract and support tech talent in the north, while creating a ‘tech-savvy workforce’.
The idea has received criticism in Manchester from technology business leaders for not taking into consideration the differences between the cities in the north.
Tim Langley, CEO and co-founder of Canddi, told MM: “It’s bloody stupid and honestly, they should stop talking about TechNorth.
“It’s a bit like having a policy called ‘Tech South America’. The differences between Manchester, Leeds and Liverpool are huge.
“To clump everything together under the label of ‘the north’, as if we’re all just one entity, smells like Westminster thinking rather than practical thinking about those who are here on the ground.”
The Lib Dems latest plans align with the latest report from Sir David Higgins which proposes a second phase of HS2.
David Cameron gave his backing on Monday to HS3, which will connect the major northern cities, cutting travel time by half on some journeys.
Mr Leech said: “This announcement by Higgins shows how important it is to deliver, because it can be a real generator for growth and allow great northern cities to thrive. But we have to show our commitment to it.”
Image courtesy of Patchwork Foundation via YouTube, with thanks.