Andy Burnham outlined his ambitious plans to make Manchester the UK’s tech capital at a tech summit in the city yesterday.
As he promised before winning May’s election, the Mayor held a landmark gathering of the region’s top digital minds within his first 100 days in office.
His aim is to harness the power of technology and spark a new digital revolution which will connect people, businesses and communities.
Speaking exclusively to BusinessCloud editor Chris Maguire, he set out the ways in which the city region can thrive.
He said: “I want Manchester to be the number one tech city in the UK, and I think we can do it.
“It’s about skills and infrastructure, and a plan for start-ups in helping them grow.
“But, we always do things with a difference here. And the difference is we need to be a smart city in every sense of that phrase.
“Not just making our traffic lights work better or our trams run on time, but connecting people to opportunity.
“Connecting older people to things that mean they don’t feel lonely anymore. Tackling homelessness, helping people move from where they are on the streets to a better situation. Crucially, young people too – we’re using digital connectivity to give people hope.
“For me, if you do those things, both from the business side and the skills side, but also on the social side, then we will justifiably earn that crown of the UK’s top digital city.”
The Mayor has already outlined the plan for a £2m digital skills fund, and a digital infrastructure board will have its first meeting this month.
Setting his ambition to be the UK’s top city, Burnham added: “We’re 60 days in but I’m just so glad I did this. What I’ve heard so far excites me, actually.
“People are really crying out for this approach, where we come together, we set a new ambition together as a city region – the top digital city in the UK, why not?
“We are going to the top, but what I want here is a different way of doing politics in action. Let the people in this room write the plan. And then when they’ve done that, we agree that I will back it.
“It’s good for Manchester in terms of its industry, but it’s a new way of involving people in politics as well – creating some hope in times where things are a bit difficult in terms of the wider world.”
To ensure the summit is industry-led, he enlisted the support of digital leaders in Greater Manchester to help drive the plans forward, including Sandy Lindsay MBE, founder and chair of communications consultancy Tangerine and founder of social media apprenticeship programme The Juice Academy; Lawrence Jones MBE, founder and CEO of UKFast; Katie Gallagher, managing director of Manchester Digital; and Kirsty Styles, head of talent and skills at Tech North.