Manchester Science Partnerships and Allied London have each been awarded £2m of DCLG cash to deliver the Project Forward creative and digital workspace, following a competition run by Manchester City Council.
The Department for Communities & Local Government initially awarded the money to Manchester following lobbying by a consortium led by tech champion Doug Ward. The finance was set to support a refurbishment project, and a tech centre was planned by Ward and partners at Federation House, within the NOMA development by the Co-op and Hermes.
However, the £4m award ended up in the control of Manchester City Council and the location went out to tender in the spring. The decision is later than originally planned, as the contract was due to have started on 1 September 2016.
A statement from the council said that following the competitive procurement exercise, it was decided that splitting the grant between two tech locations would provide the best value for money and maximise the benefits for the city, together providing 140,000 sq ft of floorspace.
Bruntwood/Manchester Science Partnerships and Allied London were judged to have the best proposals and scored equally. Following discussions, both applicants confirmed they would be able to proceed with their schemes if they received £2m.
Allied London will deliver its incubator as part of Enterprise City, its name for the 600,000 sq ft of digital and creative tech space planned across the St John’s neighbourhood. It would focus on the retail, media and TV sectors.
Bruntwood/MSP will incorporate Project Forward into Oxford House, part of the Manchester Technology Centre which sits on Oxford Road next to Circle Square. Occupiers in the 70,000 sq ft incubator will be from engineering, advanced materials and tech.
Tech North and the Manchester Growth Company will be involved in the continuous support of both locations, and assist in the management and monitoring of performance.
Sir Richard Leese, leader of Manchester City Council, said: “Manchester is already a nationally and internationally significant centre for digital and tech businesses. Support for start-ups and growing businesses in this sector will both help create jobs and stimulate further investment. Manchester is determined to be in the forefront of the digital revolution and these two new tech hubs will make a key contribution and ensure that the £4m funding we were awarded has the best impact possible.”