SODA sets the scene for the future of digital and creative

Supported by Greater Manchester Local Enterprise Partnership investment, the new School of Digital Arts (SODA) at Manchester Metropolitan University will build on the region’s rich tradition of digital, media, skills, technology and innovation.

On the back of recognition as one of Europe’s largest creative, digital and technology clusters, home to more than 10,000 businesses – from start-ups and SMEs to global brands – the demand for specialist skills and talents has increased sharply across Greater Manchester in recent years.

With a prolific heritage in broadcast and media production that started with Granada TV through to major investment in the likes of MediaCityUK, the Sharp Project, and innovation zones including the Salford Innovation Triangle,  Greater Manchester is a place where creativity and technology are jointly driving the next wave of innovation in the creative and media industries.

Addressing an urgent demand for skills in the sector and building on this reputation, Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) is creating a new academic centre, the School of Digital Arts (SODA), which will nurture the future talent of the industry, readying them for the world of work.

The £35m school offers purpose-built facilities allowing students to become qualified in subjects including animation, filmmaking, photography, UX, games design, sound, media production and AI, and expects to produce over 1,000 graduates every year.

The school has received £14.9m in funding from the Local Growth Fund via the Greater Manchester Local Enterprise Partnership and Greater Manchester Combined Authority. Together they have jointly committed to investing in Greater Manchester’s digital future to support jobs, skills and economic growth.

Greater Manchester is the UK’s largest tech hub outside of London, and supports 86,000 digital, creative and tech jobs. With demand growing every year SODA aims to develop expert graduates who will spend part of their studies embedded within the region’s £5 billion digital ecosystem through live projects with industry partners in a bid to retain talent after graduation.

The School – which will welcome its first cohort of students in September 2021 – will be shaped and led by some of the world’s leading experts, two of whom have strong ties to Greater Manchester, where they started their successful careers.

Academy award-winning director Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire, Trainspotting and Shallow Grave), who grew up studying in Bolton will be co-chair of SODA’s industry advisory group alongside Nicola Shindler. Originally from Rochdale, Shindler started her career in television at Granada Studios before founding Red Productions which has produced some of Britain’s most popular series, both filmed and set in Manchester, including Queer as Folk, Happy Valley, Last Tango in Halifax and international smash hit The Stranger.

Boyle and Shindler will shape the School’s academic learning and provide invaluable industry expertise for students along other members from organisation such as the BBC, Channel Four, Sharp Futures, Universal Music, Apple, HOME arts centre and Sony VR.

Lou Cordwell OBE, Co-Chair of the Greater Manchester Local Enterprise Partnership, and founder of Manchester’s magneticNorth digital design studio, said: “In partnership with GMCA, the GM LEP is proud to invest £14.9m of the Local Growth Fund into the School Of Digital Arts, a purpose-built facility for one of the UK’s leading modern universities.

“The Greater Manchester Local Industrial Strategy is our plan to deliver an economy fit for the future, with prosperous communities across the city-region and radically increased productivity and earning power. This project showcases one of the ways we can realise that vision: strengthening our creative, digital and media industries by generating the digitally skilled workforce of tomorrow.

“SODA reflects the scale of Greater Manchester’s digital burgeoning digital sector and ambition as well as our ongoing commitment to inclusive growth. As is the Manchester way, the private sector will continue to play an integral role in ensuring that the city region’s creative and digital sector continues to thrive and that drive a growth in opportunities for everyone.”

Professor Toby Heys, Head of SODA, said: 

“Our ambition is to become a world leader in digital arts, producing the next generation of creative talent which will drive regional growth in this rapidly expanding area.

“The involvement of internationally acclaimed media figures on our External Advisory Group is hugely exciting for us and will help to ensure that everything SODA does is attuned to the needs of our creative and digital sector.”

The arrival of SODA will be a landmark moment for Greater Manchester as the sector recovers and rebuilds from the disruption caused by Covid-19. The school will be a powerhouse for digital arts; driving ideas and innovation across all forms of creative content, and in doing so, future proofing a rich and long legacy of creativity.

GM LEP Co-Chair Lou Cordwell: My Dad and Tony Wilson inspired my civic duty to make Greater Manchester a better place

Digital entrepreneur, Lou Cordwell, became GM LEP co-chair in March 2020 and is optimistic that Greater Manchester can emerge stronger from pandemic, supporting UK economic recovery with a vision that addresses inequalities and green growth.

Digital pioneer, female entrepreneur, proud exponent of all that is good about Greater Manchester… yet determined to address the things that aren’t.

Recently installed as co-chair of Greater Manchester Local Enterprise Partnership, Lou Cordwell embodies the spirit of the organisation and the place, intent on driving economic recovery from coronavirus in a way that brings environmental and social benefits for all.

“I always say that if you were to pick anywhere to be during this crisis, it would be in Greater Manchester,” she says. “The calibre of the public and the political leadership, and the general willingness to collaborate and look after one another, means that we have the best chance of riding this out and ending up in a better place on the other side, a place that works for all our people and our planet.”

It was in January 2020 – just weeks before the first national lockdown – that Lou became GM LEP co-chair.

A board member since 2013, she’d previously served as deputy chair, SME representative and the lead for communications, digital broadcasting and Skills Fund.

2020 has presented unexpected challenges for the LEP, which supports business and local authorities to grow the local private sector, tackle major barriers to growth and develop shared strategies for the local economy to increase job creation.

But Lou remains optimistic.

“By nature, the citizens of Greater Manchester are incredibly positive, tenacious people,” she adds. “We’ve faced adversity in lots of different forms throughout our history. Whether you call it innovation, creativity, or entrepreneurialism, it’s just there, hardwired into our very ethos.

“So while there’s lots of this we can’t control about the situation at present, one of the things that’s amazing about our city region is that we do have a plan, we’re all united behind that plan, and there are really strong frameworks for public and private partnership that enable us to do things at a pace that other places probably find harder.

“I think we’ve got a really significant role to play in terms of the levelling up agenda, which is even more important than it was before. We’ve got an important part to play as an engine for growth.”

That sentiment sits at the heart of the new Greater Manchester LEP Economic Vision, which Lou has led on architecting. It’s a vision for the region’s economic recovery with an emphasis on innovation, green growth and addressing inequalities.

Acknowledging that economic and social value deserve equal weight, it includes measures to address the challenges facing female entrepreneurs, something Lou herself has long championed.

Awarded an OBE in 2018 for services to the digital and creative economy, Lou is founder and CEO of Manchester-based digital design studio, magneticNorth which was launched in 2000 as the internet was only just beginning to provide commercial opportunities.

After high school and sixth form college in Salford she studied economics at York University before embarking on a career in one of the UK’s leading advertising agencies. It was during this early part of her career that she realised the opportunities digital presented and decided to strike out on her own.

“I had no ambitions to run a business,” she recalls. “If you talk to a lot of female entrepreneurs, they have a default position that they need to be able to live with what they imagine to be the worst scenario before they take the plunge.

“What I couldn’t live with was being 65 and thinking, ‘I wonder would have happened if I’d just have given it a go?’”

With a raft of international and big-name clients, magneticNorth’s success has mirrored that of Greater Manchester’s digital sector, which Lou says only recently started to live up to its billing as the birthplace of computer science.

 “I remember having those conversations, saying, ‘we bloody invented the computer here… Why couldn’t the epicentre of digital innovation be in Manchester?’,” she recalls.

“I’ve passionately believed that for a very long time and what seems odd now is that was 20 years ago, and in the last few years we’ve seen that ambition starting to play out at a pace: there’s a real spotlight on our digital capabilities and on Manchester’s very particular flavour of digital success.”

By that, she means digital innovation that leaves no one behind and creates opportunities regardless of age, gender, social class and ethnicity. It’s a flavour which is evident across all the work that the LEP delivers, which has always been about levelling up by developing skills, infrastructure and opportunities. But Lou is particularly passionate about the opportunities presented by digital.

“For me, technology and digital has got huge transformational potential still,” she adds.

“We’ve got an opportunity to build businesses that didn’t exist a year ago and to reskill people who didn’t even know these industries existed, to change the way that we buy things, consume things, look after our wellbeing, learn, and to take the people of our city region with us on the journey.

“We have a chance to grow and scale our city region but to democratise that, to make that available to anyone. That’s still the really exciting thing about technology and the digital opportunities it affords.”

Leading a business is one thing. Leading economic recovery and growth across an entire region is something else. So why did she think it was important to join, and then co-chair, the LEP?

“Often those positions are taken by people who have technically more time on their hands,” she explains. “They’re semi-retired, or they’ve got a larger corporate career.

“I think it’s harder to be running an SME and to be involved in some of the work that we’re undertaking but at the same time I think it’s really important to bring a different perspective because we know the role that SMEs are going to play in economic recovery.

“If I thought about it then the reasons to be involved probably run pretty deep. Tony Wilson was a massive influence on me, a very big hero of mine. And for a lot of us from that generation, he imbued a sense of civic pride, he gave us a sense of responsibility to do something to help keep making the place better. And I think it’s that spirit, never settling for the status quo, that does make Manchester quite exceptional.

“The other influence was my dad. He worked for Trafford Council his whole career, could have earned a lot more money in the corporate world, but passionately believed you had a responsibility in your time on the planet to make things better and to effect change. We didn’t realise quite how much he’d done until he died, two months before he retired, and the number of people who came up and talked about the things that he’d shaped and the people he’d helped and made happen was startling. Anything that was in his gift to influence for the better, he did that, and he did that quite quietly and under the radar.

“My dad and Tony remain my heroes today and, like everyone, I continue to be heavily influenced by the moral compass of the people you looked up to as you grew up.”

Visit to find out more about the work of GM LEP.

The £1bn benefit of measures to encourage trade with India

Supported by Greater Manchester Local Enterprise Partnership, the Manchester India Partnership has backed numerous initiatives to boost business and cultural ties between the two regions, securing jobs and investment

The value of trade with India for North West businesses hit £1bn for the first time in 2019, according to analysis from Deloitte.

Working in partnership with the Manchester India Partnership (MIP) , the business advisory firm’s analysis showed that the total value of imports and exports involving companies from the country exceeded £1bn in 2019 compared to £887m in 2015.

Acknowledging the importance of trade links with India, Greater Manchester Local Enterprise Partnership commissioned the Greater Manchester and India Strategy in 2014/2015.

GM LEP are members of the Manchester India Partnership and support its work both financially and through other activity.

In October 2019, GM LEP backed a delegation to India led by Greater Manchester Mayor and LEP board member Andy Burnham, and MIP representatives including Jo Ahmed, global employer services partner at Deloitte in the North West.

Speaking about the findings of Deloitte’s research, she said: “As these latest figures show, India has become a key trading partner for North West companies in recent years, overtaking some of the more established European markets.

“The opportunity for the region to export to India is now enormous, with British products often seen as best in class due to the heritage of our manufacturing expertise. We have already seen the creation of a UK-India Joint Economic and Trade Committee (JETCO), providing direct dialogue about an enhanced trade relationship and working towards a free trade agreement.

“However, we have also seen a greater number of investments made by Indian companies in North West infrastructure projects, adding significant value to the regional economy and further strengthening the relationship between the two locations. Looking beyond the current pandemic, as connectivity continues to improve, we expect to see more and more of the region’s businesses explore options to partner with India in the coming years.”

Deloitte’s analysis study comes as the latest Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) figures reveal that India was the third most active investor in new projects in Greater Manchester between 2017 and 2020, behind Germany and the US.

The 15 projects created 792 jobs.

Despite the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, the region has continued its commitment to strengthening ties with India. Last month, Virgin Atlantic announced the launch of new direct flights to Mumbai and Delhi from Manchester Airport, starting from December and January respectively.

The benefits of greater connectivity between the North West and India was highlighted in a 2018 report conducted by Deloitte on behalf of the Confederation of Indian Industry and Manchester India Partnership.

Among key benefits of building trade links with India are the country’s population – the second largest in the world – and that it has the world’s fastest growing economy.

The Greater Manchester One Year International Strategy (available here) was signed off by GM LEP Co-chairs Lou Cordwell and Mo Isap, and board member Cllr Elise Wilson, GMCA Economy portfolio lead, in October 2020. It highlights India as a prime market and global target for trade with Greater Manchester.

According to analysis, new routes to Indian centres could support the creation of an additional 2,000 jobs and unlock up to £400m extra in GDP for the North in the next five years.

Improving relationships with India is also reflected on a national level, with more than 800 Indian-owned companies established in the UK, creating over 110,000 jobs.

During the 2019 mayoral delegation, the MIP video was shown to hundreds of delegates in India to celebrate Greater Manchester’s existing links and showcase the city-region’s key sector strengths including digital, advanced materials, health innovation and green growth.

Manchester overtakes Cambridge to rank as UK’s most attractive city for tech investment outside London

Building on a rich history of digital innovation, Greater Manchester is now second only to London in terms of European tech investment. Greater Manchester Local Enterprise Partnership has supported growth in the sector with initiatives to build skills and infrastructure.

Greater Manchester has cemented its reputation as the fastest-growing European tech city, with venture capital investment of £530m in 2019.

An increase of £153.22m on 2018 VC tech investment, it means that Greater Manchester has overtaken Cambridge as the UK’s most attractive city for tech investment outside London.

While the full impact of the coronavirus pandemic on global tech investment is not yet clear, Manchester tech investment has continued to thrive in 2020, in part thanks to the successful IPO of e-commerce giant The Hut Group, which has demonstrated the calibre of tech companies across the region.

The area’s rich heritage in manufacturing has helped to power the city’s growing e-commerce industry with other unicorns in Manchester including Auto Trader UK and On The Beach Holidays.

Increasing the pipeline of talent and skills available to support the burgeoning tech sector is a priority for Greater Manchester Local Enterprise Partnership.

GM LEP has also helped to create the right environment to attract tech investment through initiatives including the establishment of the Manchester Enterprise Zone’s Airport City Manchester site, where The Hut Group is developing ‘THQ’, a brand-new global headquarters business campus.

Lou Cordwell, Co-chair of Greater Manchester Local Enterprise Partnership, said: ”Greater Manchester has a £5 billion digital economy comprised of public sector, private sector and academia.

“We really understand the factors and components parts that are needed to make a strong digital ecosystem and for individuals and organisations to come and thrive here.

“We see partnership as incredibly important to our future success and increasingly this is international with organisations that want to come here and be part of the next chapter of Greater Manchester’s digital story.”

Thanks to these fast-growing tech companies, the digital tech sector in Manchester employed more than 100,000 people in 2019 according to data from the Office for National Statistics; Tech Nation – the UK network for ambitious tech entrepreneurs; and job search engine Adzuna.

Yet the industry has the capacity to grow even more, with high demand for talent across a variety of companies. There are 3,690 IT vacancies across the city alone, with 4,235 open jobs across Greater Manchester.

Success story The Hut Group is the company seeking the most new recruits in the region, followed by TalkTalk and Sage. The most in-demand job in the city is for software developers, followed by NET developers and front-end developers.

According to Adzuna, the city is a key area for employment and those with the correct skills are well remunerated: the average IT salary in the city is £49,765, over £12,000 more than the average salary across the city at £37,197, according to Adzuna data. While data architects are among the best-paid workers in the city, having seen average salaries for this role increase 17.5% in 2019 to £80,567.

As with other regions in the UK, there is growing demand for cloud skills in Manchester as businesses increasingly put their operations on the cloud. Across the UK, the demand for cloud computing as a skill has grown by 22% from 2018 to 2019. One of Manchester’s potential unicorns, UK Fast, is one of the UK’s leading cloud providers with clients including and The Dean Trust and Chester Zoo.

Commenting on Greater Manchester’s success in attracting tech investment, Minister for Digital Caroline Dinenage, said: “Manchester’s tech star has been rising for the past few years and the recent success of The Hut Group has helped to cement the city’s reputation as an industry hub to rival the capital.

“These new figures show it is creating new jobs and opportunities, and I am delighted that some of the country’s leading tech talent are coming together to discuss how we can help further strengthen the UK’s reputation as Europe’s leading tech player.”

Dr George Windsor, Head of Insights at Tech Nation said: “New data on Manchester’s tech industry demonstrates how much the city’s tech credentials have grown and it’s great to be able to celebrate the successes of startups across the region. This event will be a perfect opportunity to bring together some of the best minds in the North West to discuss how the sector can help both the national and regional economic recovery.”

Fact Box

  • VC investment in all tech companies in Manchester reached $687.6m in 2019, up from $199.1m in 2018
  • There are 4,235 open tech vacancies across the Greater Manchester region
  • The success of The Hut Group IPO, which floated with a market capitalisation of £5.4bn, demonstrates the calibre of tech companies in the region
  • Tech businesses in Manchester employed more than 100,000 people in 2019 and these businesses are crucial to keeping up UK productivity in the face of Covid-19
  • The average IT sector salary in Manchester is 12% higher than non-tech salaries
  • In-demand roles include cloud data architects and software engineers

Case studies:

Tootoot and Stribe

When tootoot’s founders, CEO Michael Brennan and CTO Kieran Innes, decided the growing startup needed a new HQ in 2018 they looked to Manchester before settling at the Tech Incubator, in the city’s Technology Centre. The company, which provides the tootoot platform to schools and sports groups to allow students to raise issues anonymously and its sister platform Stribe which makes it easier for business leaders to support the wellbeing of employees, was welcomed to the northern city with open arms, and has received investment from GC Angels and the Greater Manchester Combined Authority.

Tootoot’s 10 employees work across the Berwick-Upon-Tweed office and the Manchester HQ, though the majority are now working remotely. The pandemic hasn’t stopped the business however which has been pushing ahead with its new Stribe platform. After hiring two new developers and a digital designer last year, along with plans to add new sales and marketing hires to the team to help promote Stribe, the startup has achieved 81% year-on-year growth annually since 2016.

It helps that the company hasn’t struggled when it comes to new hires. One of the reasons to move to Manchester was to be part of the city’s growing ecosystem and take advantage of the highly-skilled talent in the region. Though Berwick-Upon-Tweed will be close to the founders’ hearts thanks to growing up in the area, a large city like Manchester offers more choice and makes it easier to attract developers. The local authorities in the North West have been particularly open to working with startups – Wigan Council offers Stribe to its employees, and has also received investment from the Combined Authority. The startup is having a positive impact on the local area too. It is working with the Greater Manchester Good Employment Charter, a voluntary membership and assessment scheme to improve employment standards, and is drawing attention to the excellence in tech in the region thanks to its various awards including being named as one of the GP Bullhounds Northern Stars Winners 2020 and as a Tech Nation Rising Star 2020.

Michael Brennan, CEO at tootoot and Stribe, said: “I was attracted to setting up our HQ in Manchester as a result of the strong networks and excellent talent in the city. We’ve had tremendous support from the Greater Manchester Combined Authority and local councils in the work we’re doing with tootoot to give children and young people a voice, and with our new product Stribe that helps makes it easier for business leaders to support the wellbeing of employees whether they are working from home or the office. As we look to expand over the next year, I couldn’t imagine being in a better place.”

Arctic Shores

Arctic Shores is on a mission to revamp hiring practices, by asking no questions and removing bias from the pre-hire assessment process. Instead, the SaaS HR tech company combines cognitive neuroscience with interactive mobile-friendly tasks for potential hires that allows employees to see beyond experience and use real candidate behaviour to make objective decisions. After launching in Manchester in 2014, the company recently raised $5.5m in its Series A round from Beringea and Candy Ventures.

Covid-19 hasn’t slowed down Arctic Shores, which expects to achieve 30% growth this year. It now has offices in London, Cologne and Singapore, alongside the Manchester HQ, which serve customers in over 45 countries including Kantar, Coca Cola, Siemens and PwC.

Though all staff are temporarily remote, Arctic Shores has hired 25 people to its now 70+ strong team, with plans to hire at least 10 more over the next 12 months. In particular the company is building out its engineering and customer teams to support its product ambition as it scales – it’s looking for JavaScript and Scala engineers with a passion for learning.

If its access to engineering talent that will help Arctic Shores grow, then being in Manchester certainly helps. Co-founders Robert Newry and Safe Hammad have seen the city grow into a formidable Northern tech hub, in part thanks to the access to great talent, a supportive tech community and a great quality of life. The company has great links with Manchester Business School, and is investing in future talent by offering work experience slots to students from local schools to try out software development. The entrepreneurial spirit of the city has helped Arctic Shores grow over the past few years and will be integral to its success in the future.

Safe Hammad, CTO & Co-Founder, Arctic Shores: “Over the last 10 years, Manchester has transformed into a thriving technology hub attracting businesses and talent alike, and is now home to several prominent tech success stories. Arctic Shores chose to headquarter in Manchester to take advantage of great access to talent, and for Manchester’s unwavering “can do” attitude that’s so important for businesses in their early stages of growth.”


Since 2011, Matillion has been flying the flag across the world as an example of the high-calibre tech that is coming out of Manchester. With dual HQs in the northern city and Denver, Matillion’s software empowers customers such as GE, Bose, Zapier and Vistaprint to extract data from different sources, load it into a chosen cloud data warehouse and transform it into analytics-ready insights.

So far, the company has raised $60 million from the likes of YFM Equity Partners, Scale Venture Partners and Sapphire Ventures. This growth streak has been sustained too, for three years Matillion achieved 100% growth year-on-year, and managed 90% in 2019.

Matillion doesn’t just impress its clients and the wider business community, the company was named as one of The Sunday Times Hiscox Tech Track 100 fastest-growing companies in Britain, but also its staff as earlier it received a Best Places to Work recognition for both its US office locations. This year alone the company has hired 78 new staff, and plans to hire 75 – 100 over the next 12 months with software skills, such as Java experience, and enterprise account management in particular demand – the company says these are pivotal growth roles right now. Around 77% of its staff are from the UK and Europe and it can take up to 54 days to fill a vacancy.

When it comes to hiring, there is always a lot of competition for software engineers because that’s what many other companies are looking for. But Matillion says its benefits from being based in Manchester, thanks to the steady flow of graduate and postgraduate talent from the local universities, three of which it has partnerships including Salford University, University of Manchester and Manchester Metropolitan University, not to mention the city’s vibrant tech community.

Matthew Scullion, CEO and founder of Matillion, said: “Famously the birthplace of the first industrial revolution, Manchester is one of Europe’s leading hubs for technology – the main driver of the UK economy. Much innovation has come from the region, including the first computer, called Baby, which is currently at the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester. Matillion is proud to be based in the region leading the way with digital tech.”

Keiran Innes and Michael Brennan, co-founders of Manchester-based tech company Tootoot

Solidarity and support are helping Greater Manchester’s business community to remain resilient

Working with Greater Manchester Local Enterprise Partnership, The Growth Company has provided a comprehensive range of support for businesses and individuals navigating the economic impact of coronavirus

The public and private sector responded quickly to ensure that the worst potential economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic could be avoided in Greater Manchester, where businesses continue to show resilience and solidarity.

Working with Greater Manchester Local Enterprise Partnership (GM LEP), businesses within The Growth Company Group have provided a comprehensive range of business advice and support, with services flexing to meet the evolving needs of the business community.

The breadth of Growth Company expertise enabled timely responses to the evolving crisis, with service provision pivoted to enable digital delivery of services that were not available in person due to lockdown restrictions.

In partnership with business representative organisations including GM LEP, the GC Business Growth Hub’s #HereforBusiness campaign continues to reassure companies they are not alone. It provides specific support for the new challenges presented by coronavirus. This includes extensive support via the Hub’s coronavirus microsite, a series of webinars, and guides on issues such as cashflow management, contingency planning and remote working.

The Growth Company Coronavirus Economic Impact survey was launched to ascertain the most pressing concerns of the business community, enabling Greater Manchester’s response to be tailored accordingly, and providing vital insight to support the UK Government’s response. To date, the survey has been completed by representatives of more than 3,000 businesses.

Part of #HereForBusiness, a series of Strive and Thrive workshops were borne out of conversations with Greater Manchester SMEs, delivering content that would help them to manage the pandemic and develop their businesses.

Marketing Manchester has been especially focused in recent months on leading the way for recovery for the tourism, hospitality and leisure sector in Greater Manchester.

It adapted to focus on support for the sector through initiatives including the Tourism and Hospitality Support Hub, which has been running since late March. Almost 2,000 beds were found for NHS workers in partnership with the Manchester Hoteliers Association.

Marketing Manchester has thrown its weight behind lobbying efforts for extensions to furlough and additional support for the sector. It developed the Greater Manchester Tourism Industry Emergency Response (TIER) group comprised of senior leaders from the public and private sector across our tourism, leisure and hospitality sector in preparation for the recovery task that lies ahead.

Early in the pandemic, MIDAS and the GMCA formed a PPE taskforce to source protective equipment for frontline workers.

GC Business Finance is administering the Government’s Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) in the North West. A further £3m was made available by the GM LEP from the Local Growth Fund to support Greater Manchester businesses through the Greater Manchester Coronovirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme to increase lending from £100,000 to £250,000 alongside existing Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund capital. To date, CBILS funding totalling £1.9m has been provided to 21 Greater Manchester businesses by GC Business Finance, including content Manchester-based marketing agency Contentology.

Following the £3m made available by GMCA and the GM LEP, businesses have also been able to access Early-Stage Investment delivered by GC Angels.

Businesses have also been supported in accessing funding and support available from Government, including hundreds of millions of pounds in grants available via local authorities.

In partnership with GM LEP and other delivery partners, Employ GM was launched to provide support for both employers and people whose roles have been displaced by the coronavirus.

It initially launched to connect employers with urgent vacancies to job hunters seeking opportunities and has flexed to provide specific support for sectors with the most pressing need, including retail. It provides signposting to skills advice, mental health support and training opportunities.

Kickstart is a new £2bn Government scheme that is creating hundreds of thousands of Government-subsidised job placements to help young people into work and support the UK’s economic revival.

The Growth Company is working businesses to deliver high-quality placements that go beyond the minimum requirements of the scheme to deliver an outstanding experience.

The Safely Reopening GM campaign launched back in June to support businesses by providing guidance and information to open their premises safely, and restart to economy.

As the economy shifts to reflect the changes brought about by coronavirus, the Greater Manchester Good Employment Charter is part of a movement in Greater Manchester to ensure that economic recovery can benefit all.

There are many heartening examples of businesses large and small who have supported the challenge of coronavirus. The Hut Group has donated the equivalent of £10m, including donating £1m to charity and making and distributing £1m of hand sanitizer.

Many hoteliers, including GG Hospitality, have made rooms available to key workers.

Didsbury Gin, Zymurgorium and Tarsier Spirit are all Greater Manchester distillers who switched production to sanitising liquid, providing product to frontline workers in the region.

Allied Bakery, Stockport, has donated hundreds of loaves to needy causes.

Open Kitchen Manchester, the waste food catering social enterprise, has done incredible work, sending out 11,000 meals a week to vulnerable people.

Tibard, Dukinfield, and Saraco Industries, Bolton, are examples of companies who have experienced increased demand for their products. Tibard switched production from chef whites to NHS scrubs, Saraco saw increased demand for its anti-bacterial wipes.

Cllr Elise Wilson, Leader of Stockport Council, GMCA economy portfolio lead and GM LEP board member, said: “In business and in so many ways, we’ve shown that we’re stronger together, more confident, and ready to lead economic recovery for all.”

Working with GM LEP, The Growth Company has been able to offer support to businesses including Animation Toolkit

Getting Building Fund provides £54.2m to support implementation of Greater Manchester Local Industrial Strategy

Greater Manchester Combined Authority, GM Local Enterprise Partnership and the UK Government agreed the Greater Manchester Local Industrial Strategy in 2019

Activities supporting the implementation of the Greater Manchester Local Industrial Strategy have attracted £54.2m in funding from the Government’s Getting Building Fund.

The fund provides money for investment in local, shovel-ready infrastructure projects to stimulate jobs and support economic recovery across the country.

Creating thousands of jobs, introducing measures to reduce more than a million kilogrammes in C02 emissions, and providing support for business and apprentices, the projects selected demonstrate Greater Manchester’s ability to support the UK economy.

The GM LIS was agreed with Government in 2019 and outlines a set of long-term policy priorities to help guide industrial development and provides a plan for good jobs and growth in Greater Manchester. It emphasised Greater Manchester’s strengths in Health Innovation; Advanced Materials and Manufacturing; Digital, Creative and Media; and clean growth.

In August 2020 in response to covid-19, the UK government announced a £900 million Getting Building Fund to deliver jobs, skills and infrastructure across the country. This investment is being targeted in areas facing the biggest economic challenges as a result of the pandemic. It is supporting the delivery of shovel-ready infrastructure projects, agreed with mayors and Local Enterprise Partnerships to boost economic growth, and fuel local recovery and jobs.

In Greater Manchester, £54.2m has been provided to for seven projects which will unlock commercial space, create over 11,000 job opportunities, bring new superfast broadband, open commercial opportunities in Rochdale and Stockport and create new apprenticeships and unlocks 1,060 houses.

Projects reflect GM LIS commitments to digital infrastructure and green growth.

The ‘shovel-ready’ Greater Manchester projects provided Getting Building Fund support are:

Manchester Innovation Activities Hub, Manchester (£4m):

Creation of a new build 90,000 sq ft commercial innovation workspace, vocational/life skills training for ‘hard-to-fill’ occupations and industry 4.0 training facility within the Oxford Road Corridor Enterprise Zone.

The building will incorporate low carbon technologies to be net zero carbon within the landlord areas. The building will support R&D intensive, businesses working in the areas of Industry 4.0, Digital Technology, Advanced Materials, Engineering and low Carbon.

Completion of Kingsway Business Park Northern Loop, Rochdale (£3.5m):

Kingsway Business Park is a 470-acre site next to Junction 21 M62. Kingsway is 60% of the way through its development period. When completed it would open 9.75 hectares of land for development providing a potential 850 jobs.

South Heywood Link Road, R (Michael Faraday Avenue) Rochdale (£10m):

Construction of the South Heywood Link Road Phase 1 (linking M62 J19 with the South Heywood Employment Area) to create improved access to an existing employment area and open up development sites capable of delivering up to 1000 new homes and 135,000 sqm of employment space.

Mayfield, Manchester (£23m):

Mayfield Park will be 7 acres of beautifully landscaped public park at the centre of one of the most significant, catalytic sustainable and green regeneration developments in the UK. This will unlock the development of 24 acres of central Manchester, derelict for decades, next to Piccadilly Train Station and will become a world class hub for enterprise start-ups and large corporates in 1.6m sq ft of commercial space, 1,500 homes with retail, food and drink facilities, delivering 13,000 new jobs and expected to £7bn in net economic benefit to the local economy over 10 years.

Port Salford Early Infrastructure Works, Salford (£6m):

This early works package would allow for acceleration of the Port Salford rail terminal project – to prepare a regionally significant site for logistics warehousing at Port Salford, adjacent to the A57, M60 and M62 and creation of a 28-acre rail freight terminal. This project includes the diversion of Salteye brook, site preparation including UU main diversion and works to progress securing freight paths from Network Rail to ensure Covid 19 delays are minimised for half of the consented warehousing. The indirect output of this work is accelerated delivery of commercial floorspace, jobs and the ability to link to international markets through the Manchester ship canal, a key sustainable gateway to and from the Port of Liverpool.

Stok – conversion of iconic empty high street retail unit into new workspace Stockport (£3.5m):

Stok is a project led by Glenbrook to repurpose the former Marks and Spencer building that has lain vacant in the heart of Stockport’s Merseyway Centre since 2018. The scheme will provide much needed new workspace in the town centre. This project aligns very closely to Stockport’s Future High Street Fund submission as an unfunded option. As well as diversifying the high street and generating footfall it contributes to the Greater Manchester LIS by proving quality space in a sustainable town centre location. It will create up to 500 new jobs in repurposed retail space. Roof mounted solar PV will ensure green recovery forms part of the proposals.

Stockport Exchange Phase 4 and Clean Energy Infrastructure, Stockport (£6.6m):

Stockport Exchange is an accessible business Hub located within the heart of the town centre and adjacent to Stockport station, within the Town Centre West Mayoral Development Corporation area. To date the partnership has already delivered, 3 phases comprising of two grade A offices, a 115-bed hotel, NCP car park and enhanced public realm. This project will see the acceleration of the programme of future phases of Stockport Exchange to incorporate green energy, job creation and improved public realm. A new build 400 space multi-storey car park (MSCP) is required to unlock Stockport Exchange Phase 4. The next phase will comprise of a Grade A, 70,000 sq ft office building. The MSCP will immediately release the next office development in the masterplan and will accelerate future phases as they will be more viable by not needing to carry the MSCP infrastructure costs. The scheme will also promote sustainable transport including cycling and walking. Clean local energy infrastructure will be built into the whole estate, with roof mounted solar car ports on the MSCP, up to 30EV charging points and retrofitted solar PV on the roofs of 2 Stockport Exchange Office and the Grand Central leisure centre. These schemes form part of the GM Unlocking Clean Energy consortium work and Evergreen wave 2 feasibility work.

The indicative outputs – which are locally reported – demonstrate Greater Manchester’s ability to support the UK in achieving key aims and ambitions, including:

Direct Jobs Created: 11,680

Construction Jobs Created: 1,876

Jobs Safeguarded: 5

New Apprenticeships: 45

Houses Unlocked: 1,060

Commercial Space Unlocked: 204,988 sqm

New Learning Space Unlocked 15,000 sqm

New Learners Assisted: 250

Businesses Assisted: 29

Roads/Cycle Lanes/Walkways Unlocked: 4.5km

R&D Floorspace: 15,800 sqm

Public Realm/ Green Space Created: 55,740 sqm

New superfast broadband connections: 1024

CO2 emissions saved: 1,055,000 kg