Deputy prime minister Nick Clegg has set a target of doubling the number of technology jobs in the north of England.
The politician, whose constituency is in Sheffield, has also launched TechNorth, a new Northern Futures project aiming to unite ‘pockets of excellence’ in tech industries in the north.
Cities including Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield, Liverpool, Newcastle and Sunderland will be part of the initiative, working with UK Trade and Investment to encourage inward investors to the tech industry and support those located in the north.
Clegg is aiming to build a northern tech hub, which will rival the likes of Berlin, New York and Shanghai, with TechNorth the first stage of this ongoing effort.
‘As a first step, I can confirm government will be investing in an organisation that promotes TechNorth internationally to encourage global businesses to invest there,’ he adds. ‘Alongside this, TechNorth will look at the case for investment in digital skills to ensure these companies have a local pool of talented people and have access to the finance they need to grow.’
The government has found that there are a collective 20,000 tech, media and telecom businesses in the region, but believes to compete with larger clusters and reach ‘critical mass’ inward investment is required.
Factors such as tax breaks for seed investors, reduced corporation tax and regulatory reform agenda have been identified as those contributing to the success of the East London tech hub – and will now be replicated in the north.
Joanna Shields, former CEO of Tech City UK until she passed the post onto Gerard Grech in January and current chair of the organisation, believes that tech businesses in the north are driving economic growth.
Shields, who also became a baroness over the summer, adds, ‘This initiative builds on the phenomenal success of Tech City UK in London, helping extend this success into the north with the Tech Cluster Alliance, and will help us power the global success story for the whole of the UK.’
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The potential of northern technology companies has already been explored by GrowthBusiness, which hosted an inaugural Tech Invest North West in Liverpool in July following on from the success of its first two Tech Invest London events. In 2015, the northern event will be taken to either Leeds or Manchester.