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Improving connectivity: a priority in building the Northern Powerhouse

Tech | Marie Escaich on January 11, 2017

December 8th saw the inaugural meeting of the Northern Powerhouse partnership, set up by former Chancellor George Osborne as part of the UK government’s initiative for boosting economic growth across the north of England.

“We are determined to back business growth across the Northern Powerhouse to create an economy that works for everyone. We have some of the best businesses and talent in the world” said Northern Powerhouse Minister Andrew Percy.

Many of these businesses were in attendance, with representatives from more than 40 high-profile organisations including Vodafone, Barclays, and Atkins. Joining them were universities and local enterprise partnerships, all discussing subjects that included the government’s industrial strategy, transport infrastructure, and connectivity.

Indeed connectivity is crucial to digital businesses who need access to faster and more reliable internet if they are to grow.  

From our own research alone, we can see how important a feature connectivity is to attract business to the north. Nearly two in five of the northern-based technology workers that responded to our recent survey suggested that improved connectivity would make Manchester more attractive to UK-based technology workers.

Manchester is considered by many to be at the forefront of the Northern Powerhouse and as the UK’s next major tech hub. It has recently seen investments including, £800 million in Airport City and £235 million in the Sir Henry Royce Institute for Advanced Materials.Also, the employment in the city is set to grow by almost four per cent over the next four years.

This belief in the city’s potential is increasing with three quarters of respondents professing confidence in Manchester’s local economy and its future as the UK’s next big tech hub.

Echoing this confidence, Sir Howard Bernstein, Chief Executive of Manchester City Council, suggested the city was on the verge of assuming its potential as a global leader in the digital economy.  Additionally he confirmed that connectivity is a crucial element to ensure that every Mancunian business has the opportunity and resources to reach its potential.

It is interesting to see that connectivity was identified as a priority by the members of the Northern Powerhouse partnership. Greater investments in underlying connectivity infrastructure will not only attract more businesses to Manchester and the wider region, but ensure that all businesses – new and old – will have the internet access they need to succeed and grow the northern economy.

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