Posted on November 29, 2013 by staff

Which UK City Is The Home Of Digital? – The Debate


Chris Marsh
Director of Partner Development at UKFast

“Manchester is the best place for digital businesses because of our history.
“As a city, we learnt how to create big and important things that the world relies upon, before anyone else – like cotton and computers. Now we’re showing our entrepreneurialism with technology such as Graphene. Legends like Alan Turing and Sir Tim Berners Lee both took residence in the city – and for good reason. Manchester also bred 25 Nobel Prize winners.
“Manchester had the first datacentres in the country and pioneered the way for digital businesses and universities to have something to strive for, capitalising on strong internet links and intelligent minds who knew how things worked.
“Having Media City relocate here is a hugely positive move for the area, as the city will deliver even more focus on creative and digital businesses, all providing support to the next generation.
“Geographically we have excellent transport connectivity for commuters to Scotland, Birmingham and London, plus an international airport with easy links to the USA, Russia, the Far East and all major Euopean cities – the city is accessible to people with incredible skills.
“MIDAS recently reported that the creative, digital and media industry in Manchester employs 63,000 people and generates £2.7 billion of GVA annually, and is the largest creative and digital cluster outside of London. The ICT industry here employs around 30,000 digital workers and generates £1.9billion of GVA annually.
“I’ve been working in this industry for almost 14 years providing services to help digital businesses grow and I wouldn’t want to do it anywhere else.”

Andy Budd
Co-founder of Clearleft, Fontdeck, dConstruct and The Brighton Digital Festival

“Thanks to its active community and laid-back quality of life, Brighton is a haven for technologists. Whether you’re interested in user experience design, mobile gaming, hardware hacking or Javascript programming, there’s a group for you.
“This community activity builds to a crescendo in September every year when over 130 talks, exhibits and networking events take over the city as part of the Brighton Digital festival. Everything from large international conferences like ‘Reasons to be Creative’ and ‘dConstruct’, through to ‘Games Jams’, ‘Hack Nights’ and the excellent ‘Mini Maker Faire’ come to the city. However this activity isn’t just limited to the festival, with conferences like UX Brighton, Meaning, Ampersand, Full Frontal, Develop and TEDx Brighton happening all year round.
“As a result, Brighton has one of the highest concentrations of digital talent in the country, with 1,495 Creative, Design and IT (CDIT) companies feeding £713m into the local economy. This puts the CDIT sector third after our universities and tourist industry. Brighton is a hotbed of creativity.
“Our proximity to both London and Gatwick Airport makes it easy to do business nationally and internationally – just one of the reasons we also have a thriving games and start-up industry.
“Brighton hasn’t reached this position because of regional development funds, the halo effect of the BBC moving to Salford, or the benefits of being a capital city. Instead it’s the passion and experience of the people who inhabit the city that have made Brighton what it is – one of the best-known technology hubs in the UK.”

Paul Appleby
Director of VID Communications, Chair of Bristol Media and Creative Sector

“The Bristol area is building on its established reputation for quality – exemplified in the TV sector through Aardman and the BBC, and a thriving digital, mobile and marketing and advertising community.
“For the likes of BBC, Creative Skillset and Creative England, there’s a developing ‘golden triangle’ with London and Manchester. The centre of the city has everything you could want from IBM to Old Vic, Watershed and Bristol University – all within an area under one square mile.
“Recognised by NESTA as one of the UK’s Top 10 creative centres, and by McKinsey as an ‘innovation hot-spring’, there’s a great sense of common purpose linking powerful creative and technology communities, ready for a future of ‘Creative Technologists’.
“The industry in Bristol is growing fast – 11 per cent between 2010 and 2011 – with a virtuous circle of SME growth creating opportunities at entry-level – well-served by graduates from University of West England and University of Bristol, and talent magnets in search of a better quality of life than they can get in London.
“There’s great experience in international co-production, and as a centre for factual content, an opportunity to move into the developing digital health and education sectors.
“Public sector support is strong, too. Creative and High Tech are two of the key sectors within the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership, which includes the technology and publishing strengths of Bath. The Bristol and Bath combination gives us a city region with 1.1 million people, that’s both dynamically urban and beautifully rural. It’s THE place to live.”

Danny Meaney,
Managing Director of New Media Partners

“Edinburgh is one of the UK’s fastest growing technology hotspots – with very good reason.
“It’s unrivalled for its great business environment, driving genuine innovation and for sustaining creativity and inventiveness – which has lasted for centuries. The Scottish Enlightenment created many of the world’s key inventions such as the telephone, penicillin and the public healthcare systems. All these elements go deep into the history and DNA of modern-day Edinburgh.
“That desire is clearly still alive and well today. This year’s EIE conference showcased 60 companies and was attended by more than 500 delegates, including 140 investors.
“TechCube – a world-class space for technology startups that would bring 35 businesses together into one incubator – could expand, and soon.
“Edinburgh Council has backed the newly opened Creative Exchange workspace which will house an accelerator programme called ‘Up’, and is rapidly opening datasets and new APIs, triggering a real boost in smart city solutions. The recent $800million valuation of Skyscanner has shown that Edinburgh is now one of the best locations in Europe to build a technology company.
“This beautiful and iconic city has also been voted the UK’s best place to live for 14 years running.
“Digital technology sits at the heart of all sectors in Edinburgh, from medicine and marketing services, to games, government, biotech and renewable energy. There has never been a better time, or a better city, to launch a technology company.
“It really is an astonishing place to work, and things are only going to get better.”