The North West is becoming a powerhouse of digital technology to rival London, suggests a new survey.

Deloitte’s TMT Leaders Panel survey canvassed the views of industry leaders across the region and found that 58 per cent agree that their businesses are advantaged by being based in the North West as opposed to London, with 17 per cent stating that they think London provides no advantages over the North West.

Almost 60 per cent also thought that the North West had provided them with the right ecosystem to grow their business over the last five years.

“Over the last decade technology, media and telecommunications in the North West have gone from strength to strength,” said Claire Jolly, head of TMT at Deloitte in the North West.

“MediaCityUK is now firmly established as the media hub of the North, while tech giants sit side by side with social disruptors, global cyber security companies and cloud specialists.”

Billion-dollar companies that have been built in the North West in the last few years include boohoo, AO.com and The Hut Group.

→ READ MORE: RICHARD GREGORY JOINS FAST-GROWING NORTH WEST TECH FIRM

Manchester is the city with the most digital tech workers outside London and this year there have been significant funding rounds for healthtech firms eLucid mHealth and Push Doctor, events start-up TickX and FinTech Shieldpay – all companies based in Manchester.

Other digital tech successes include UKFast, the cloud-hosting business that helps small start-ups to grow, retailer PrettyLittleThing, virtual reality company Immotion Group, and AccessPay, a specialist in cloud-based payments and a cash management automation provider.

Airtime Rewards, which joined Tech Nation’s inaugural FinTech programme in September, raised £1m in May.

Airtime Rewards co-founders Josh Graham, left, and Adam Ward

Adam Ward (pictured right with his fellow Airtime Rewards co-founder Josh Graham) said: "Previously, there was a belief that tech companies could only thrive within London and the limits of the M25 but, whilst the North/South balance is still not equal, it is getting there.

“The North has an exciting tech hub and businesses like ours have grown and flourished thanks to investment and forward thinking in the region, as well as access to the talent and growth potential here.

"It is vital that we continue to champion business in the north for the next generation and address the myth that graduates from the North West need to move to London to start their careers in industries such as tech and media when there is so much on offer right on their doorsteps.”

Tech Nation on Tour arrives at No 1 Spinningfields today, when entrepreneurs, founders and tech ecosystem experts will assemble to debate the opportunities for developing start-ups in the North West.

Data on Manchester will be presented by Tech Nation’s insights team which will feed into a panel discussion on the challenges faced by local entrepreneurs and start-ups.

The panel includes Sarah Wood, the chair and co-founder of viral ad company Unruly, who is also a Tech Nation board member; Gail Jones, joint MD and co-founder of UKFast; Hannah Anderson, co-founder of Social Chain and Amman Ahmed, founder of Music for Pets.

Gerard Grech, chief executive of Tech Nation, will announce today that Tech Nation’s new home in the North will be at the Bonded Warehouse, putting the organisation right at the centre of the city’s start-up ecosystem.

Gail Jones

UKFast MD Jones (pictured above) said: “Manchester’s strength is that community, business and government can work together collaboratively.

“Manchester led the industrial revolution and generations later there’s huge expectation from business leaders to continually reinvent the city.

“The last few years have seen a huge acceleration in the growth of the digital tech sector in the city and Greater Manchester.”

The buzz around Manchester’s digital tech sector has been helped by government bodies and businesses planning to open or expand in Manchester in the next year.

Government agency GCHQ and Moneysupermarket.com will open in the city while leading local tech company, The Hut Group, has said it will invest more than £750m in the area over the next three years.

Car maker Jaguar Land Rover recently opened a new software, IT and engineering centre in Manchester which will work on its connected car technologies. Meanwhile, Amazon is opening a new office in Manchester and booking.com has signed a deal to open a £100m European HQ in the city.

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