It appears Manchester may be giving London a run for its money as the next great FinTech sector in the U.K. In recent years, Manchester has been a go-to location for people looking to leave London — and it’s not just because of the city’s cheap housing or attractive work/life balance culture. It’s also the region’s thriving tech environment.
In this edition of PYMNTS’ Weekly Tech Center Roundup, we head back to England to check out what unique characteristics are driving tech success in Manchester.
Before we jump into the post, here are a few quick facts about Manchester and its tech scene:
- The estimated population of Manchester is approximately 3 million.
- Manchester is known for its world class universities, leaders in technology and science.
- Recent reports have placed number of tech jobs in Manchester at around 85,000.
- Greater Manchester has one of the largest creative and digital clusters in the U.K., employing 63,500 people and generating GVA of £3.1 billion each year.
- This year Manchester was voted the best European location to do business.
Manchester is gaining recognition for more than just having top universities and being home to a soccer team many consider the “best of the best” in the Premier League.
The city’s FinTech reputation and tech sector are on the rise.
“Large global firms such as RBS and BNY Mellon already call Manchester home, and the city also holds the IT centers for other global financial services brands, such as Lloyds and Barclays,” Manchester’s Inward Investment Agency recently announced.
The U.K. itself is already considered to be the global capital of FinTech, establishing unprecedented growth by bringing in the second highest amount of FinTech funding in 2015.
In Manchester, that’s also led to strong growth for the city’s tech scene as well as its startups.
“This convergence of Manchester’s two largest industries, financial services and digital technology, has resulted in a growing cluster of FinTech businesses; from well-established companies supporting the financial services, to smaller firms developing novel solutions and disrupting current business models. We have seen particular growth in FinTech firms specializing in payments,” Tim Newns, chief executive of MIDAS, told Prolific North during a recent conference where big banks and startups discussed the U.K.’s “post-Brexit” financial sector.
“Manchester has a proven track record of supporting FinTech investments complemented by a high-caliber of talent,” he continued. Newns noted that the strength of Manchester’s digital infrastructure has made it attractive to various fast-growing SMEs looking to establish and grow their technology footprint. The creation of new hubs for innovative companies, SMEs and startups has also helped to foster an emerging FinTech cluster in the region.
FinTech Paves The Way For Financial Resurgence
Some of Manchester’s leading FinTech businesses collaborated with financial institutions to chart out what the future of the financial industry looks like in the U.K.
The “FinTech Revolution: Embracing Change During a post-Brexit Era of Business Transformation” event brought together both FinTech and big banks to discuss the evolving digital landscape, the growth of FinTech in the U.K. and how the sector can continue to attract talent in a post-Brexit environment.
Jeffrey Tijssen, managing principal and head of FinTech and digital partnerships for Capco Digital, said:
“Digital technology’s prominence is radically influencing today’s consumer habits and how we operate professionally. It dominates how we arrange our finances, communicate, shop and consume information therefore, our FinTech industry has no signs of losing pace despite the uncertainties that the EU Referendum result brings. Digital is at the forefront and the latest trends such as big data, crowd funding, the Cloud and mobile payments are helping FinTech thrive. New rules and directives such as PSD2, will enhance the customer experience, improve security and boost competition.”
Manchester’s FinTech industry stands as a strong alternative to London, due to its growing number of high-end facilities catered to helping companies through any stage of their life cycle. There are a number of incubator/accelerator spaces and digital hubs located throughout the city that are designed to support both startups and established companies.
Strong Predictions For Manchester’s Future
Sir Howard Bernstein, chief executive of the Manchester council, has high hopes for Manchester and its potential to have great influence in both the U.K. and abroad.
“Over the past 40 years, I’ve witnessed a dramatic change in Manchester’s local economy. But today, the city is on the verge of assuming its potential as a global leader in the digital economy,” Bernstein told The Guardian.
Both civic and business leaders are focusing on helping the city to realize its digital potential.
The government has provided a £4m grant to help establish a new tech hub in the city called Project Forward. The project is aimed at creating a “focal point within the city for attracting inward investment from technology businesses improving access to expertise and finance,” the Manchester City Council explained.
The new space will help to nurture startups through a range of initiatives and programs, including mentoring and collaboration opportunities.
Manchester has also secured a £10m investment after a team made up of the city’s industry, academic and public sectors was awarded the titled the UK’s Internet of Things (IoT) City Demonstrator.
“The public and private sector has to work together to ensure that every Mancunian business has the opportunity and resources to reach its potential,” Bernstein noted.