The last few weeks have seen a surge of interest in the creative and tech sector in the North of England.

Since the outcome of the Scottish vote, northern cities have been stating their claim to greater devolved powers from central government. The creative and tech sector, including digital technologies, is an area where several cities have strong activity – amongst them Manchester, Leeds and Sheffield.

Nick Clegg came to a creative and digital tech hub in Sheffield at Electric Works on 23 Oct as part of the Northern Futures initiative. Joining him was Joanna Shields, formerly of Facebook fame, having led the company’s internationalisation. Now a Baroness in the House of Lords, Joanna Shields has been spearheading the government’s role in the development of Tech City in Shoreditch.

Nick Clegg stressed the need for government to play an active role in re-balancing the UK economy, as it is too south-east centric, with an over dependence on the financial sector in London. Following the crash in 2008, he said we need steps to avoid this happening again. Hence the need to support northern cities in strengthening their economies and being a positive alternative for job-seekers and young talent.

Seeing an opportunity for a quick win, the government is rolling out the success of Tech City in the North. £2 million has been earmarked to date and Joanna Shields is set to oversee it. Whilst this is close to the next election, the hope is that the initiative will have longevity and be supported by the next government – according to Nick Clegg this should be a no brainer!

The 29th October saw a second event on the topic, this time in Manchester. The Manchester School of Art hosted a lively panel debate “Growing by Design: the role of the creative industries in building a northern powerhouse” as part of the Manchester Design Week festival. John Mathers, Chief Executive of the Design Council, stated that the creative industries are now as big as financial services and one of the fastest growing areas, so it’s a sector to be reckoned with. The need to attract and retain good talent, to lead globally in design and to work collectively were all strong discussion points, and importantly that young designers just like to work on great projects!

A detailed blog post about the event can be found here

Further reading/videos:

Tech North

Tech City

Northern Futures (Decentralisation Momentum is “irreversible” – Clegg)

One North

About the Northern Powerhouse