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Manchester to get Tech North start-up boost

Manchester has a proud computing history - such as being the birth place of the first computer to store program data electronically.

Now, its technology entrepreneurs have their sights set on becoming a major force in the world of start-ups.

The city is soon to become the home of Tech North, a government-backed organisation that will promote the interests of start-ups in cities in the north of England, similar to the Tech City initiative in London.

The BBC understands the headquarters of Tech North will be located in Manchester's trendy Northern Quarter, an area not unlike Old Street, the part of London home to many of the city's up-and-coming small tech firms.

On Thursday, a government-backed report examined the growth of technology "clusters" around the UK.

It suggested that as well as London - where the government has put considerable effort into promoting start-ups - other places such as Brighton, Liverpool, Belfast and Greater Manchester have shown strong growth in the digital industry.

The Tech Nation report findings have been published online as an interactive guide.

Prime Minister David Cameron said: "The digital economy has become an integral part of our country and the rapid growth of many digital businesses has confirmed Britain's position as a global hub of technology excellence."

Chancellor George Osborne added: "What's so exciting about today's Tech Nation report is that it shows how we're seeing the growth of tech businesses right across the country.

"As part of our plan for a truly national recovery we will do everything we can to support this growth and back the different tech clusters that are emerging around Britain."

The imminent arrival of Tech North in Manchester comes five years after Mr Cameron announced Tech City, an organisation set up to support start-ups around the so-called "Silicon Roundabout" in East London.

Since then, the government has been eager to stress its success - however there are some in the technology business who dispute the impact Tech City has had, arguing that start-ups were succeeding independently of any government help.

Doug Ward, who runs Spaceport, a start-up working space in Manchester, said he hopes the city can become one of Europe's top five destinations to run a tech company - alongside, he said, London, Dublin, Berlin and Stockholm.

Follow Dave Lee on Twitter @DaveLeeBBC

  • 05 Feb 2015
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