Susan Woodward is to step down as chair of MCDA, the company responsible for The Sharp Project and Space Studios Manchester and the redevelopment at One Central Park.
Woodward has been involved with creating and delivering strategic growth opportunities across the Manchester digital and creative sector for ten years that have delivered £40 million to the regional economy and created hundreds of jobs.
The former MD of ITV Granada created, built and founded The Sharp Project, Manchester’s first tech collaborative space for the digital and creative sector.
The 200,000 sq ft facility opened in 2010 and is still home to more than 400 people across 60 creative companies.
Woodward went on to create, build and operate Space Studios Manchester, the city’s large scale TV and film production hub. Its latest and largest sixth stage – 30,000 square feet – opened in January 2018 and is already in production.
The site now occupies 6.7 hectares and additional construction work is underway to deliver further expansion.
“Ten years ago, before The Sharp Project, there were no places in the city that offered connected, collaborative and affordable work space for creative start-ups,” said Woodward.
“Now London and US companies are piling into Manchester with new offers. That’s a great Manchester success story.
“We had lost our reputation as the home of UK award winning dramas after an exodus to London – now we again wear that crown. Job done.
“Over now to the brilliant team and board across the MCDA portfolio, who will continue to drive growth and ambition. Thanks to all those who have both supported and suffered my impatience to deliver change at a pace.
“This city has always been visionary, with extraordinary leadership, and it has been a privilege to watch and learn from those who devote their lives to Manchester.”
Woodward was creative director for the 2002 Commonwealth Games then creative director for the Liverpool ‘European Capital of Culture’.
In 2008 she was awarded an OBE by the Queen for services to broadcasting and the Commonwealth Games.
Sir Richard Leese, leader of Manchester City Council and MCDA board member said: “Susan has been invaluable to the economic growth of the creative, digital and tech sector in Manchester.
“Her vision and commitment to The Sharp Project and Space Studios will be an important legacy to the sector for many years to come.
“She is an outstanding business woman and the City of Manchester has considerably benefited from her insight and job creation over the last ten years.
“Her vision of supporting creative businesses by creating their own collaborative environments was ahead of its time and we can now see that the ambition has been fully realised with these hubs driving Manchester’s expanding creative and digital sector.”
A former award-winning newspaper and TV journalist, Woodward was a founding director of the award winning social enterprise SharpFutures and is a member of the Manchester Tech Trust, a non -profit private sector body led aimed at connecting tech entrepreneurs to investors.
She is also an advisor to companies seeking growth opportunities in the digital and tech sectors both in the UK and overseas and continues to deliver large scale capital projects for clients.