It’s often said that in Manchester you’re either in the blue corner or the red.

Well, if you’re having your food delivered that’s also probably true. Deliveroo’s blue logo and the Just Eat red lettering are instantly recognisable across many cities. Both are UK-born and now classed as unicorn businesses due to the phenomenal investment they’ve attracted. 

The North West is one of the key areas attracting this investment. Go online and chances are you’ve ordered from BooHoo, used AutoTrader for advice or got AO.com's infectious jingle in your head. All these and others are Manchester-based unicorns – businesses that have grown in the city and delivered a billion dollar market value.

Overall, Manchester is on par with Amsterdam for creating fast-growing tech businesses after the city’s tech businesses achieved a combined turnover of £3.2bn in 2018. Right now the city is at the forefront of the UK tech sector and the fourth industrial revolution, just as it was with the first, more than 250 years ago. 

And right across the UK, tech is booming. It might be the American behemoths like Google and Facebook that attract the headlines, but British companies are doing Manchester and the UK proud. With over 2.1 million people working in UK digital tech in 2018, the tech economy is a bigger employer than the hospitality sector or construction and continuing to grow.

In Manchester, Tech Nation research for the government’s Digital Economy Council found 164,000 open job opportunities in the Tech Sector, the largest number outside of London. 

All this is cause for optimism in 2020.  Our most recent data shows that turnover of the tech sector grew by four per cent in Manchester, outstripping the growth of the wider economy and many of its competitor regions.

Big investments like Enterprise City near Spinningfields, or other re-developments in the wider region like those in Media City, are helping to identify the city as a key hub for a number of industries, but another major reason for this city's ongoing success is the ability for businesses to connect, mentor one another and scale up.

Across the UK, I see my team of Entrepreneur Engagement Managers connecting with and supporting scaling tech businesses everywhere from Scotland and Northern Ireland to Cornwall and the South Coast. The peer-to-peer mentoring networks and learning opportunities that we provide are helping tech entrepreneurs raise their ambitions. In Manchester we do this work from our base in Spinningfields.

And last week we hosted the Digital Secretary, Nicky Morgan, to talk about why the city has been so successful and how we maintain that momentum! On a lot of people’s minds will be the ability to recruit and retain talent. Manchester’s growing reputation as a significant tech cluster will help as people tend to relocate to Manchester for the longer term, attracted by the better cost of living, a growing reputation for technology excellence and its rich cultural history.

Certainly there is a lot of support to upskill talent in the city, with companies such as Code Nation and Northcoders offering great support to develop in demand skills. 

It was once said that the city has everything except a beach. I’ll leave you with the final thought that if you’ve ever glanced, wistfully, at the holidays available through OnTheBeach.co.uk then you’ve used another proud Manchester unicorn.

Maybe the city does have it all.