Manchester is the undisputed tech capital outside of London, according to the city council’s leader Sir Richard Leese.

The long-serving politician was speaking to BusinessCloud ahead of Knight Frank’s ‘(Y)OUR SPACE: Insights from the global workplace’ event in Manchester on Wednesday (January 30th), where the property company’s global head of occupier research  Dr Lee Elliott spoke about the changing role of the workplace.

Leese said the technology sector was continuing to fuel a lot of the demand for office space in the city.

Channel 4 recently chose Leeds ahead of Manchester and Birmingham as the location for its news national headquarters but the latest Tech Nation report showed Manchester’s tech sector was still significantly bigger than any of its rivals.

He said: “I think the biggest taker for space for at least three years now has been the tech sector, and the property market is no longer being solely driven by major corporates in their requirements for new space every so often.

“Clearly there are some major space takers within the digital sector, so Booking.com, Amazon’s new office, JLR’s digital team and so on, but also there are vast amounts of small or medium sized companies that want a different sort of space.

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“They want more flexible space, they want flexible terms and that is leading to, I think, a very different sort of market.

“Alongside the office accommodation they’ve got, they also want amenities, they want other assets around that give them the sort of qualitative working life they want.”

Leese said  outside of London, Manchester still has the biggest tech sector.

“I’ll take Tech Nation’s figures from 2017 which gives the numbers of people working in tech,” he told BusinessCloud. “At that point Manchester was almost 20,000 more than the next biggest place which was Reading actually.

“Manchester is, outside of London, the leader in tech, and indeed over the last couple of years has been one of the fastest growing cities in Europe as far as tech is concerned.”

Leese was joined at the Knight Frank event by Jon Matthews, the director of Jon Matthews Architects; Aine McTiernan, north lead of PwC Scale; Toby Sproll, director - retail, amenity & community, Bruntwood; and Angela Harrington, Head of Work and Skills, Manchester City Council.