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Manchester Digital pledges to grow tech sector in the north

Infrastructure, knowledge-sharing and growth are key priorities

Manchester city

Manchester Digital has prioritised infrastructure and growth for the digital sector in the north-west of England.

Infrastructure, the digital ecosystem, skills, leadership, and profile and promotion are key priorities for the organisation, an independent trade association for the north-west digital sector, picking these areas based on research conducted with Manchester City Council last year.

Graham Benson, chair at Manchester Digital and CIO of Rentalcars.com, said: "Our analysis of the digital sector comes as a number of big companies start to move their digital and tech teams here, demonstrating the pull of the region Sainsbury's and Bet365 being just a couple of examples. It's now up to organisations like us to ensure the sector fulfills its potential.

"The research we undertook last year has been refined and has resulted in us deciding to prioritise these five areas of focus where intervention is required areas where we believe we can make the most impact. Now we must agree an action plan to ensure that we optimise the results of the intense interest currently being focused on our region and work collaboratively with businesses, education, and the public sector to ensure we're getting it right."

Development priorities for the next two years include collaboration and knowledge-sharing between different parts of the industry, a simpler procurement process to help smaller companies bid for larger projects, intervention to encourage retention of talent in the region, creation of a multi-level mentoring scheme, and a campaign to use the devolution opportunity to open up the infrastructure market.

The organisation also wants to create a new narrative that provides a "true reflection" of the north of England's status and capabilities within the digital sector.

The government has been criticised previously for its unbalanced focus on London and the south, with several high-profile exits from Tech North earlier in the year allegedly connected to disagreements over London-based Tech City UK's level of control over its budget.

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