Umbrella brand created for digital portfolio

Simon Donohue

A holding company has been formed by Manchester City Council to better exploit property assets providing a platform for the growth of the digital sector.

Still to be named, it will act as a mother brand for a family of existing and future projects, including The Sharp Project, One Central Park and the former Fujitsu building in West Gorton.

Each of the separate properties will maintain their separate branding and operate as individual enterprises.

Combined, the three sites have in excess of 450,000 sq ft of floor space dedicated to creative digital businesses that could create up to 1,300 jobs over the next three years.

The sites all include the development of skills and advancement of education as an additional focus.

A spokesman for Manchester City Council said that while there will be an appetite to add further sites to the portfolio no further acquisitions are imminent.

A business plan for the company will be submitted for approval by the council's executive later this year.

Cllr Nigel Murphy, Manchester City Council's executive member for environment, has responsibility for Digital Manchester, which works to promote Manchester as a digital hub.

He said: "We want to bring these three important council owned assets under one umbrella body so the group can further improve our position in this rapidly expanding and competitive global market.

"The city's creative and digital sector is vital for Manchester's economy.

"It stimulates growth and attracts new entrepreneurs, start-ups, capital and talent to the city.

"It is clear that over time we will need to expand this asset base as demand outstrips supply.

"The holding company will allow us to create a flexible platform so we can respond quickly to opportunities as they present themselves."

Sue Woodward OBE, director of The Sharp Project and Manchester's Creative Media Champion, said: "We have created something very special at The Sharp Project and it would be prudent to capitalise on this opportunity.

"Creating a new company to bring these three important assets together is a major milestone for us and for Manchester as a whole.

"The council's foresight in grasping this opportunity with both hands and believing in our ambition is truly commendable and quite remarkable."

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