Report: Who is taking the lead to promote growth in Manchester?

As part of The Drum’s series of reports on the marketing and media scene in Manchester we speak to a number of industry insiders operating in the space to gain an insight into the key issues surrounding the city emerging as a media capital. Following the demise of NWDA, Design Initiative and Vision + Media, does Manchester need someone to take their place to promote growth in the city? If so who is able to take the lead?

Sue Woodward, director, The Sharp ProjectAs has been the case for decades, Manchester City Council is working in partnership with the private sector and central government to ensure growth is the number one priority. A leading example of that ambition is the £16.5m Sharp Project, which is the new home for digital and creative entrepreneurs in Manchester. A conversion of a former 200,000 sq. ft. warehouse, it now houses more than 50 SMEs in the sector as well as hosting dramas such as Channel 4's British comedy award winner Fresh Meat and Sky 1’s Mount Pleasant. Manchester City Council’s ambition is to be a leading global digital city by 2020 and as such it has heavily invested in high speed bandwidth at The Sharp Project with multiple providers of resilient connectivity connected to the only significant internet outside London. In addition they have a huge power supply and data storage facilities at The Sharp Project. This means businesses based there can trade both domestically and globally with a client base as diverse as India, Singapore and North America as well as Europe across affordable and super-fast fibre. The city of Manchester owns the building. It allows the creative community to manage the business – a unique partnership in the UK.Tony Foggett, CEO, Code ComputerloveThere is a huge vacuum at the moment; no one is taking the lead and, I would argue, at a time when the need has never been greater. The LEP (the Government’s idea to replace the RDs), has identified the creative and digital sector as central to Manchester’s growth but it is still in the process of forming and I’m sceptical about its ability to make an impact as it doesn’t have any of the money the NWDA had. There is MIDAS but it is largely focused on bringing in investment (and essentially creating competition) from outside the city rather than fostering the existing industry. I think the most successful support for the sector in Manchester has come from within, in the form of member-run trade associations like Manchester Digital and the MPA and thriving specialist communities, like Social Media Manchester or Northern Digitals.
Nigel Papworth, owner, RefineryI don’t think it needs a specific body – talent attracts more talent and the clients will follow.
Cindy Simmons, MD, MPAI will be bold and say that the MPA is set, ready and poised to continue to fill this void: we have worked tirelessly to build our reputation, grow our membership base and to encourage true collaboration within the sector as a whole. We do however want to work with partners who represent the sector where ever possible and as a not-for-profit organisation we have no political agenda. We are simply here to help the sector as a whole, grow, develop and nurture talent, provide thought leadership and debate and to execute world-class events that are totally inspirational. Not least we have engaged effectively with the key stakeholders in this city, MIDAS, BBC, ITV, MMU, MediaCityUK and Media City Studios who are all totally behind our vision. Put simply our vision is to see Manchester on the world stage, growing and developing the sector, encouraging raw talent and maximising this amazing opportunity. The strength of the sector is apparent – they support us and they will help us grow collectively.Belinda Peach, director, PeachyThe MPA could position itself as the new support agency for the CDM sector. However the traditional TV and film sector is slow to respond. The film and TV sector is traditionally very protective and prefers to work within its own parameters. There is work to be done to convince them this is a way forward for the converged content developers.Jane Hudson, MD, Forever CreativeI don’t think there is any one body effectively promoting the design industry in Manchester at the moment. It is clients and agencies themselves who are pushing for growth through their own hunger and desire to succeed.Tim Newns, chief executive, MIDASAs Manchester’s Inward Investment Agency, we are committed to promoting growth and investment in this sector. At MIDAS, we have dedicated business development managers for the creative digital and media sector and ICT sector. Their roles are to support our strategic aim to secure significant levels of new investment and employment for the city region. This is achieved through the global business marketing of Manchester, targeting key markets and sectors and going out to sell Manchester’s Creative sector and the companies within it on a global stage. MIDAS works with partners across the world to draw attention to Manchester and the companies here – working to encourage collaboration and growth, internationally. Nick Rhind, CEO, CTI DigitalThere’s a number of new schemes from the BBC and Channel 4 that are now running such as DFF. I don't think the industry has been that affected by the demise as the general mood is good.Sponsored by:

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