Oxford Road start-up demand offers developers lifeline

Developers seeking viable opportunities in turbulent times may find a haven in the university area around Oxford Road, if plans being devised by the fledgling Manchester City South Partnership are realised.

Jackie Potter, chief executive of the partnership, wants to increase the volume of managed workspace for new and young university spin-out companies.

Among the possible sites for new space are the land to be vacated by the BBC's move to Salford in two years' time and former UMIST stock made redundant by the merger with Manchester University.

Jackie PotterPotter, pictured, who has been in place since July, said: "The problem is that small companies need space to grow into and currently there is not enough space for them in the area.

"We are working with Manchester Science Park and others to identify sites to bring to market in the next 12 months."

Manchester University has created more than 100 spin-out companies to date, employing 3,000 people and generating £300m annually. The goal is to increase this to 350 companies, supporting 11,500 jobs with an annual output of £1bn within ten years.

Potter added: "We can help bridge the gap between the private sector and the educational institutions who run managed space for their related companies.

"Such spaces often require a higher specification and we are working on funding packages to make this stack up."

The partnership was officially launched in March 2008, but was conceived in 2006 when the BBC opted to move to Peel Holdings' Media City UK in Salford Quays. Potter was recruited from Blackpool council, where she was executive director of tourism and regeneration.

Manchester City South Partnership is made up of Manchester City Council, Manchester University, Manchester Metropolitan University and the Central Manchester and Manchester Children's University Hospitals NHS Trust and the North West Development Agency.

The group's masterplan, which covers environmental and transport targets as well as employment, retail and leisure, aims to create 34,000 jobs through development of 600 acres of the area around Oxford Road.

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