Tech Nation report spotlights Liverpool and Manchester

A comprehensive analysis of digital technology clusters across the UK by Tech City UK and DueDil has listed Greater Manchester as the top area in the country for growth in company turnover.

According to the 50-page Tech Nation: The Digital Economy in 2015 report released yesterday, Greater Manchester experienced a 74% growth in tech companies established between 2010 and 2013. Liverpool had the second fastest rise in start-ups, with a 119% increase in the amount of companies incorporated between 2010 and 2013.

Tech Nation was put together by the government-backed Tech City UK to understand and reveal digital capabilities across the country, with a focus on concentrations of UK digital companies and their business activities. Research began in early 2014, with more than 2,000 digital businesses surveyed and 47,200 digital companies analysed. Around 98% of the companies were classed as small businesses.

The report showcased 21 digital clusters across the UK, including Greater Manchester and Liverpool, looking at whether a concentration of companies developed area specialisms and what were the opportunities and challenges in each area.

National findings:

  • Digital job growth predicted to outperform all other occupations by 2020
  • 1.46m people, 7.5% of entire UK workforce, currently employed in digital industries
  • Highest rates of digital employment in Inner London, Bristol & Bath, Reading, Greater Manchester
  • 74% of digital companies in UK operate outside London
  • UK's fastest growing tech clusters in terms of new digital companies formed since 2010 include: Liverpool, Inner London, Belfast, Greater Manchester, Bournemouth, Brighton & Hove, South Wales and Bristol & Bath
  • Clusters with highest average company turnover are Greater Manchester, Belfast, Sheffield, Inner London and South Wales

Greater Manchester:

  • Manchester one of fastest-growing tech cities alongside Leeds and Cardiff
  • 54,527 people in digital employment
  • Improvement needed in perception of the region and transport infrastructure
  • Expertise focused on hardware and devices, media and entertainment, and FinTech
  • Top capabilities were cloud computing, visual and audio design, network infrastructure and protocols, firmware and OS development, and hardware development
  • 40% surveyed believe that their cluster helps them secure access to appropriate and affordable property


  • Fastest increase in amount of start-ups after Bournemouth, with 119% increase in growth of companies incorporated between 2010 and 2013
  • 21% of Liverpool's tech cluster founded between 2013 and 2014
  • Access to finance and economic climate most needed to improve
  • 80% of respondents viewed themselves as part of a cluster
  • Strongest areas are advertising and marketing, software and development, and games development
  • Top capabilities are mobile and tablet development, visual and audio design, firmware and OS, artificial intelligence and computer simulation

In Greater Manchester, tech clusters were focused around MediaCityUK, the Sharp Project, Manchester Science Park and the Northern Quarter. Notable companies included and, with successful start-ups including Wakelet and Niftydrive.

Gaming heritage was reflected in the current picture for Liverpool. The report highlighted the emergence of local companies such as Starship and Firesprite since the closure of Sony Studio in 2012. There are also growing clusters focused on IoT and HealthTech, and an ecosystem of mobile app development and creative agencies, including Studio Mashbo and Draw+Code.

Across the region, businesses surveyed praised the availability of working spaces such as SpacePortX, the Landing and the Sharp Project in Manchester, and Baltic Creative in Liverpool.

Click here to view the full report

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All these references to Greater Manchester, yet just the city names of Leeds, Liverpool, Bournemouth etc. So are they comparing Metropolitan areas to city areas? It’s comparing apples to pears. Leeds has just a big metro area as Manchester, or is something else going on (again) to "Big up" Manchester again, there is certainly a trend appearing.


MediaCity is in Salford, Greater Manchester, not Manchester. Some companies forming part of this cluster are also based in parts of Greater Manchester but not in Manchester itself. You may notice they also refer to South Wales as a cluster.

By Yarrum

Greater Manchester, like Greater London functions as a single, coherent economic unit whereas West Yorkshire and Merseyside do not to the same extent.

By Stats

True, I hadn’t noticed that Paul. There are a growing number of tech start ups based in Birkenhead, just over the water from Liverpool city centre and closer to it that Salford Quays is to MCC, and opening up in other locations in "Greater Liverpool", but no doubt they too weren’t counted. All hail Manchester as they lap up all the good stuff on the back of "research" like this. Fingers crossed we can keep our village post office open here in the ‘Pool and over there in Leeds eh.

By John

Hopefully when Sensor City, starts up in Liverpool, it will address the balance for city v city analysis. The point I am making, is that the data shown here is based on the the Metropolitian County vs a City. This gives an inbalanced view on the sitution. Also tech companies are independent of Political structures so to say Greater Manchester is one type of authority compared to Leeds and Liverpool and Birmingham….so that makes it okay? To dismiss, not include other tech companies in the other city areas or suburbs.. because the reporting excludes them is not an accurate report, I believe it is based on the NUT group definition.. We have interests in a growing tech company, based in the south but soon to spread our wings further north. We don’t see ourselves as part of any political area, we will base ourselves where we want too, not because some report says so and so are better. There you go, back to the lab now.


Stats, sorry but that really is nonsense. Manchester isn’t special. Wigan, Bolton, and Rochdale (a declining town next to a thriving city) have as much to do with Manchester as Chester and Warrington have with Liverpool. Liverpool City Region, aka Merseyside, is actually highly monocentric by comparison, with only Southport bucking the trend. The only thing Greater Manchester and Greater London have in common is that they are both named after the city with the most recognisable names. And nothing in this argument takes away that the figures for the whole of the Greater Manchester county (2.7 million people from all those towns) are being compared to an "analysis" of just 460,000 people in Liverpool (an underbounded area that doesn’t even include Bootle, Aintree or Kirkby), making the city look like some small outpost. Comparing the unofficial comparable "wider" Liverpool City Region of 2.5 million people might be understandable (although I expect would show more equality, since there are sizeable industries in the towns that would encompass), but since Liverpool City Region (Merseyside) itself is a NUTS2 territory (as Greater Manchester is) it’s unclear as to the reasoning behind this.

By John

Yes, the bias in the reporting is obvious. Paul – based in Chester & North East Wales, and definitely feeling part of the Liverpool City Region.

By Paul Blackburn

Lots of bluster and nonsense there John. Merseyside is markedly poly centric with relatively weak economic links between the core and some surrounding boroughs. By comparison Greater Manchester is much more mono centric, functioning as a coherent economic unit with strong market links between the core and the 10 boroughs and on some measures extending beyond into Cheshire East, Warrington, High Peak and Vale Royal. The analysis is therefore valid.

By Stats

The report in Forbes on this article presents a much more balanced view, in reflection to Bournemouth and Liverpool. Both not as big as London, but showing healthy signs of growth and development.


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