Consultants test Manchester’s case for second city status

Seven consultants have been appointed to write the first Manchester Independent Economic Review to "help inform the city of its economic potential".

Manchester Enterprises, the city's economic development agency, is overseeing the review which is chaired by Sir Tom McKillop, chairman of the Royal Bank of Scotland.

The findings of the report, due by the end of this year, will aim to establish whether the city "has the characteristics and assets which would enable Manchester to act as the second major UK economic growth pole, complementary to London."

The selected consultants are:

Volterra / Burns Owen Partnership: will examine industry sectors, clusters and the innovation system; looking at the links between university research, entrepreneurial start-ups and the adoption of new techniques in business.

Experian Business Strategies: will study economic connectivity and trade; examining imports and exports, supply chains, and the experience of companies in innovation-focussed sectors and detailed trade linkages with other regions.

Aston University Business School: will seek "to understand the Manchester city region's potential appeal for inward indigenous investment to future investors by analysing the current and potential future investment climate as well as looking at the impact of investment in our economy".

IPEG, University of Manchester: has been appointed to investigate labour markets, skills and talents, and the supply of suitable places to live and work.

Amion: is investigating sustainable communities, understanding the reasons for economic segregation within the Greater Manchester area.

PricewaterhouseCoopers: has been appointed to carry out the Daresbury Campus Review on behalf of the Government. The project will assess the current and potential contribution of the Daresuby Campus to science and innovation in the UK economy and to the North West in particular.

Enterprise London School of Economics and Political Science: has been appointed to look at the case for agglomeration economies [when firms locate near each other] within the context of the Manchester city region.

The year-long review will report to McKillop and a panel that includes Jim O'Neill, head of global economic research for Goldman Sachs; Prof Edward Glaeser, University of Harvard; Diane Coyle, managing director of enlightenment economics; and Jonathan Kestenbaum, chief executive of NESTA, The National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts.

McKillop said: "The review panel were delighted by the overwhelming response from such high-calibre applicants. We believe these projects will give the panel an excellent insight into the city's position and will enable us to make recommendations that will drive forward the next 'big steps' needed for the Manchester city region to support in fulfilling its vision in becoming a world-class city region at the heart of a thriving North."

The review panel will issue an interim report in summer 2008 with the final research published late 2008.

The review is funded by contributions from NESTA, the North West Development Agency, North West Learning & Skills Council and by Greater Manchester partners.

More details on the Manchester Independent Economic Review can be found on

Initial baseline findings from the review have been added to the Place North West Resource Library.

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