New links with San Francisco are just the latest confirmation of Manchester’s tech prowess
On the 28th of March, the ‘Man-Fran’ super-commuter highway opened up across the skies with the very first direct flight leaving the runway in Manchester and touching down across the pond in San Francisco just 11 hours and 20 minutes later.
More than just shaving a few hours off future trips to the Golden Gate Bridge, the route will create new links with the innovation hub that is Silicon Valley.
On that inaugural flight were a number of leading figures from the North West’s burgeoning tech sector.
Over the course of a whirlwind few days, more than 30 delegates – including representatives of the government’s Northern Powerhouse initiative – visited the likes of LinkedIn, Rocket Space, GCA Global and Stanford University.
Among them, was Kerry Wright, Alliances Director at Manchester-based Cisco partner Purple. When I caught up with Kerry after she landed back – with the jet lag just about worn off – she said one of the best things about the trip was the sense of community that it helped to foster.
This sense of community, and openness to collaboration, has been a vital aspect of Purple’s lifespan to date, she told me.
With the support of Cisco, she said, the Purple team have spent “a great deal of time bouncing ideas around with other Cisco-fostered start-ups like Snap Fashion, Hoxton Analytics, Mishipay, and amBX.” These are all start-ups, of course, that have spent time developing their businesses at our IDEALondon post-accelerator.
“Being able to collaborate in a creative, enabling, and tech-driven environment was invaluable to our team,” she explained. “I suppose it delivered two outcomes, it helped us to be better informed and better understand the direction the industry is taking, but it also helped to shape our strategic direction as a result.”
The trip to San Francisco was akin to this collaborative spirit on a couple of different levels. Not only was there the more obvious aspect of meeting like-minded folks in California, but Kerry said the opportunity to spend time with others from the North’s tech scene was just as inspiring.
Indeed, the region is enjoying a period of particularly good health when it comes to innovation – building on a long-established history of groundbreaking discoveries and events that have shaped the world we live in today. Last year was a record year for investment in Northern tech companies, with a total of £326.9m invested.
Manchester, the region’s beating heart, is the location of the CityVerve smart city demonstrator project that Cisco is the technical lead on. We’ll be opening our Mi-IDEA post-accelerator there later this year too, building on the success we’ve had at IDEALondon as well as the current strength of the region – Greater Manchester boasts around 52,000 jobs in the digital sector, with £2.2bn in output.
Kerry will be speaking at our final recruitment event on April 26th, before the centre’s much-anticipated launch later in 2017.
“Considering the immense support, knowledge, and partnerships Purple fostered in IDEALondon, we’re thrilled to hear that a similar resource is coming to Manchester,” she told me. “Undoubtedly, Mi-IDEA would have been hugely beneficial to us had it been available in our start-up days.”