Tech City Contender: MediaCityUK
It already generates more than ┬ú200m for the local economy and boasts big name residents including the BBC and ITV ΓÇô so could the digital and creative cluster at MediaCityUK be the perfect location for your startup?
About MediaCityUK, Salford
A vibrant media hub, particularly well known for its strong TV and film industry presence, MediaCityUK is actually home to a wide variety of digital, media and tech companies. TV & film production account for almost a quarter of all organisations based here, followed by app development companies which account for twelve per cent, and design companies which make up a further ten per cent. Nine per cent of companies based here specialise in web development, while eight and a half per cent are classed as PR firms.*
There are many reasons why companies choose to set up in MediaCityUK: the thriving media community, access to specialist state-of-the-art facilities and for many, the cost-effectiveness of running their business from Salford rather than London.
WhoΓÇÖs based here?
Many media and tech companies have clustered alongside the TV giants, including:
- Shiver ΓÇô producer of factual programmes owned by ITV
- 4D Creative ΓÇô interactive learning environments within the classroom
- Yippee Entertainment ΓÇô app and games development
- Space Digital ΓÇô film and visual effects
- Baby Cow Manchester ΓÇô originally established by Steve Coogan and Henry Normal to produce British comedy
- dock10 ΓÇô provider of HD TV studios, post-production facilities and cloud media management services.
The main startup hub within MediaCityUK can be found at The Greenhouse ΓÇô a specialist base for small creative businesses which provides flexible office space within a quirky working environment.
In terms of funding and business support, Creative England is based at MediaCityUK. The national agency funds creative ideas and businesses in the film, TV, games and digital media sectors.
For support with specific projects, the Adobe Research Hotel is an innovation space for the TMT sector and gives businesses the opportunity to partner with research staff and the University of Salford for research and co-creation projects.
As with Silicon Fen in Cambridge, one of the big advantages of this location is the number of well-established companies based here, including ITV and the BBC, enabling startup companies to network with them and learn from them.
Learning and networking: ManchesterΓÇÖs tech community
Being just ten minutes from Manchester city centre by car, businesses based at MediaCityUK can also take advantage of the networking and educational events hosted here too. ThereΓÇÖs a wide range on offer, from monthly Lean Startup Manchester meetings for entrepreneurs and developers, to tech-focused events around interests such as Drupal, Linux, Advanced WordPress and open data. Many of these are hosted at the Manchester Digital Laboratory ΓÇô a dedicated event space for creative tech groups.
For Mobile Monday, the User Experience Awards, and the Manchester Animation Festival head to Manchester Digital, while TechHub Manchester hosts a calendar of events covering everything from coding to health tech, big data to startup advice.
For more informal meetups, TAKK is an Icelandic-inspired coffee shop and creative space where youΓÇÖll find many of the Manchester tech scene hanging out.
MediaCityUKΓÇÖs tech talent pool:
Digital and tech training starts young in Salford. Based at MediaCityUK, the Oasis Academy is a secondary school which offers specialist courses in media, broadcast and digital, alongside more traditional academic subjects. It even has its own state-of-the-art media centre.
There are also three universities within half an hour, offering a considerable talent pool of tech, business and digital media graduates:
- University of Salford: Its MediaCityUK campus is dedicated to media and digital futures. Specialist courses taught here include undergraduate studies in Computer and Video Games, Professional Sound and Video Technology, and Law for the Media and Digital Industries. The university offers an even wider range of courses at postgraduate level, including Animation and Virtual Environments, Media Production, Databases and Web Based Systems, Video, Audio and Social Technologies, and Digital Production for Television and Film.
- University of Manchester: Offers courses in Advanced Computer Science, Artificial Intelligence, Software Engineering, and Advanced Web Technologies among others. Also look out for business graduates across a variety of specialisms.
- Manchester Metropolitan University: From Animation to Computer Games Development, computer games are a specialist area at MMU. Other tech and digital courses include Media Technology, Advanced Computing, Post Production Technology, Software Engineering, and Digital Communications Management. MMU also offers more than seventy business and management qualifications.
The big picture: the future for MediaCityUK
ItΓÇÖs already boosting the local economy by more than ┬ú200m a year, but there is still much to do to meet the ambitious plans set out to transform this area of Salford into a leading global creative hub. Long-term development plans are already in place to continue to expand MediaCityUK over the next fifteen to twenty years. Phases one to three of the development were completed in 2011; detailed plans for phases four to seven are now being finalised. Once it is complete and operating at full capacity, the Government expects MediaCityUK to create 15,000 jobs within the local economy.
And while MediaCityUK has been reaping considerable benefits as a specialist hub, it also benefits from its close proximity to Manchester city centre ΓÇô a thriving regional city which has attracted much Government support and is one of the fastest growing UK cities of the last decade. MediaCityUK is in an excellent position to take advantage of this strong regional economy too.
MediaCityUK or Tech City ΓÇô which is better for launching a startup? Where would you launch yours? Tell us what you think in the comments.
Discover more Tech City Contenders here: