Tech growth to continue fuelling North West digital sector

Manchester and Liverpool’s creative and digital sectors are predicted to see growth of more than 10% within the next five years – making the regions an increasingly attractive region for people to live, two reports by global commercial real estate firm Avison Young found.

While Liverpool’s creative, digital and technology ecosystem continues to build, having doubled in size since 2012, Manchester has seen a 79% increase in creative and digital employment within the last ten years.

Now new waves of both commercial and residential developments will be required to match the potential growth of these sectors.

Stephen Cowperthwaite, regional managing director for Liverpool and managing director of UK regions at Avison Young UK, said: “Liverpool’s strengths in advanced manufacturing, health and life sciences, and the digital and creative industries will be instrumental in creating new jobs and retaining and attracting talent to drive the city forward.

“The revitalisation of the docks in the north of the city, alongside the transformation of the region’s towns, will act as catalysts for wider regeneration investment.

“All of this is fuelled by the region’s famous cultural offer, paving the way for the city region’s next chapter and the delivery of real social, environmental, and economic value.”

Other sectors fuelling regional growth include health and life sciences, integral to both Liverpool and Manchester’s economies, and hospitality, which is expected to see growth of almost 12% in Manchester and 9% in Liverpool by 2028.

Advanced manufacturing is also one of Liverpool’s key strengths, with its strategically significant location for industrial occupiers and its multimodal port’s proximity to 50% of UK manufacturing sites.

Despite the recent axing of the Manchester leg of HS2 – the proposition for which was built on enhancing connectivity between Manchester, the wider North West region and London – the anticipated growth of the creative and digital sectors looks set to bring further investment into the North West and bolster the regional economy.

The government’s pledge to invest £12 billion in improving rail links between Manchester and Liverpool will also play a critical role in growing the creative, digital and tech ecosystems across the cities and the region.

The launch of Avison Young’s new Outlook reports was preceded by events in Manchester and Liverpool last week, featuring panel discussions with key regional decision-makers on the current and emerging growth opportunities in both cities, and the importance of public and private sector partnerships in stimulating investment into the economy.

Barry Crichton, regional managing director for Manchester at Avison Young UK, said: “Knowledge industries, including tech, digital and scientific R&D, have been the driving force behind the recent and future growth in Manchester and the property market is moving fast to adapt to their needs, as shown by the trend towards investment in lab space, as well as a movement in offices adapting to hybrid working by becoming team collaboration zones.

“With such a positive outlook for the creative and digital sector, coupled with a thriving health and life sciences ecosystem, new waves of development will be needed over the long-term to match this future growth with a steady supply of new commercial and residential property.”

Dr Aileen Jones, executive director, investment & delivery at Liverpool City Region Combined Authority, said: “Liverpool City Region’s core growth sectors – health and life sciences, creative and digital, and advanced manufacturing – present a transformational opportunity for the region.

“Our bio-manufacturing cluster is one of the biggest in Europe; we have a huge area of opportunity in gaming, medical technology, AI and quantum computing; and our advanced manufacturing sector is home to world-class expertise.

“These sectors make up a thriving business environment, are a huge draw for investment, and will continue to attract new occupiers to the region.”

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