The North is the new home of tech. Forget Tech City in London, recent claims by the deputy prime minister Nick Clegg have announced TechNorth, a hub of five cities, Manchester, Sheffield, Leeds, Newcastle, and Liverpool, is the latest up-and-coming technology hub in the country.
According to the press, the aim of TechNorth is to ‘to do what TechCity has done for East London – put TechNorth on the international map’. But how? Can there be widespread prosperity brought to the North over such a wide area? If the aim is to get larger companies to come to the North, how will they feel when offered such a smorgasbord of places to go?
The North has already got a thriving tech scene. There are many games developers and digital agencies dotted about the North, with small hubs of tech activities focused in area of cities where there were once the textiles and brewing industries.
Questions have been raised as to exactly how this idea can work. It looks from the outside like a hard sell for the agency tasked with gaining outside investment. After all, Newcastle and Liverpool are on opposite sides of the country with a three hour drive from one to the other.
However, it’s good to see talk of investment happening outside of London. Tech City took the supercharged London economy even further ahead of the rest of the country and there have been rightful complaints from all corners of the UK from people wondering why the money invested in Tech City hasn’t been equally shared out over the whole country.
Despite the investment Tech City has had its share of issues, with firms struggling to fill all of the roles that the investment has provided. There were 33,000 more tech firms in the city in 2008 than in 2012, and not enough trained professionals to go round. With heavy investment coming to the North, will the same struggles appear here?