An interesting news article popped up via Business Live the other week on Manchester’s future aptly titled: "More unicorns 'soon to emerge' from Manchester's growing tech ecosystem” that we thought would be useful to explore in further detail.
Within this write up, the author Tom Houghton goes on to home in on the rapidly growing tech ecosystem of Manchester and how the continued success of the business sector both during and post-pandemic has resulted in several Northwest-based companies reaching a valuation of more than $1bn.
“With Manchester being such a burgeoning start-up hotbed, there is bound to be ‘futurecorns’ that will emerge. While being incredibly challenging, Covid has undoubtedly created some positivity for digital delivery businesses, accelerating their impact” - Amelia Bampton, regional director of Codurance UK North
With five unicorns already in operation across Manchester that include - Boohoo, AO, AutoTrader, The Hut Group and On The Beach, this news further strengthens the reputation of Manchester as a budding location for entrepreneurs to lay their claim within the tech industry.
From fantastic transport links across all major tech cities, to reduced offices space prices in comparison to competitors (estimated to be around 40% less), it’s becoming increasingly clear that while London remains a central hub for tech operations across the UK – Manchester isn’t far behind.
The first thing to make note of when we attempt to answer this question is that the growth isn’t necessarily just limited to Manchester. All across the UK, when we examine in wider terms the kind of companies that have succeeded and survived during the pandemic, we can see a pattern emerge of strategy shifting resulting in rewards being reaped.
From the changing of company policies to cater to customer habits (moving online) to companies placing a higher emphasis on employees’ needs being attended to through WFH models, over the pandemic we’ve been able to see the clear path to success for organisations is firmly rooted in being able to evolve and adapt.
For further instances of this point, we can look to the Charity Digital Skills Report that was published this month that found that:
“Over two thirds of charities (67%) now see digital as a prime concern for their organisation, with similar numbers planning investment in digital infrastructure”
While not the optimal way of learning by any means, across the industry the pandemic has aggressively (and in some cases fatally) reaffirmed that adaptation and digital transformation should be a key priority for organisations both now and into the future.
Tech infrastructures were not traditionally purpose-built to handle the kind of unforeseen circumstances that we’ve encountered, and we suspect moving forwards more effort will be put into digitally transforming internal and external operations to account for the digital age.
When the lockdown was first announced across the nation, there was an undeniable sense of worry amongst the tech sector. After all, how could we be expected to survive when the very foundation of normalcy that we traditionally operated within was torn apart? And from that, how, if at all, could we ever recover?
Well, with it being announced that the UK has an impressive 100 tech firms valued at over $1bn - up from 44 in 2017, it’s clear that while the road of the pandemic has been hard and is far from over, there are reasons (as evidenced throughout this blog) to be confident that the tech sector will continue to thrive - provided as pointed out that they continue to evolve digitally in tandem with customer habits.