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The North West England tech ecosystem continues to thrive

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by Startacus Admin


A little insight into how the tech ecosystem in the North West of England continues to thrive and has become a real challenger to the capital...


Whilst at one time, London may have traditionally garnered a lot of the attention when it comes to being at the core of the UK’s tech ecosystem, the North West has been raising its profile considerably over the last while and has become a real challenger.

nova-photo-min According to Tech Nation’s annual report, there was almost £600m venture capital invested in the North West region in 2019 and Manchester was deemed to be the fastest growing tech city in Europe. From tech unicorns to early stage startups, the entire region is a vibrant and dynamic hub of tech entrepreneurship.

One of the catalysts for that tech startup growth has been Liverpool-based Nova, a programme which is on a mission to change the way that startups are founded, funded and scaled.

We asked Paul Dodd, Nova’s Head of Marketing why he feels that the North West has become a major hub of entrepreneurship in recent years and what he feels makes the startup ecosystem in the North West unique.

Paul explained:

“I think the improvements we've seen in the North West ecosystem over the past few years have been the results of the hard work of the previous ten. There's been significant improvements in the education sector, the number of startup and tech meetups and support networks, and it's a testament to a lot of hard work and determination from the people who have been involved in building a fantastic community across the region. That's really been a big factor in helping us to attract more funding and investment into the region's entrepreneurial talent.

That community I believe is also what makes the region unique, here there really is a willingness to help and support each other that I haven't found to the same extent in other regions. It's now a really fantastic time for founders to start a business here. We have great access to tech talent and a willingness from the established tech businesses and people within the region to share knowledge, advice and contacts to those just starting out. The lower living costs when compared to the capital additionally can mean a better standard of living, and importantly a more cost efficient use of their finances and any investment capital. 

Nova Startup Founder 1Increasingly as being in the capital is becoming less important, this has only been expedited by COVID and the businesses new ways of working, I can only see the region going from strength to strength in the coming years.”

And whilst COVID-19 has been challenging for us all, it has also highlighted just how resilient and innovative businesses can be. Businesses have introduced new and creative ways of working, developed new business models and diversified into new markets.

Actions such as these are vital if our economies are going to survive in the new normal.

However it’s not just about survival - economies need to thrive and prosper too. And one of the best ways that this can happen is with the growth and nurturing of startups - after all startups are essential drivers of job creation and are therefore vital to our economy.

In the North West, there are all sorts of programmes and initiatives aimed at helping startups to develop, grow and scale their businesses - from accelerators such as Ignite and UP Ventures in Manchester through to the innovative “co-foundery” programme from Nova in Liverpool. And with a recent report by Startup Genome placing Manchester-Liverpool in the global Top 10 as an Emerging Ecosystem for startups, having ranked the region as #9 in its study on a range of factors including Performance,  Funding, Market Reach, Talent, Connectedness, Knowledge and Infrastructure, it is likely that the importance of programmes such as these will become even more evident.

Whilst the North West’s startup ecosystem is currently broad and varied, encompassing everything from small, creative startups through to emerging and scaling startups in the FinTech, EdTech and Big Data sectors, the growth sectors of the future are not yet fully known.

As Olivia Greenberg, Chief Growth Officer from Nova explains:

“If only I had that crystal ball! The reality is that none of us know what will happen in the future but we are seeing significant growth from our own portfolio in sectors like healthtech, hometech and ecommerce”.

Nova Startup Team strategy sessionIn a post-COVID world, there will of course be significant opportunities for startups in all sectors that have developed innovative solutions to help mitigate the impact that the pandemic has had - whether that is social, economic or otherwise.

Developing solutions to problems is at the very core of what the Nova programme does - irrespective of the market sector. Nova works with startups from an early stage, helping them to fully refine and develop their ideas and turn them into successful and scalable startups.

As Olivia explains: “We are sector agnostic and tend to invest in business that will disrupt through incremental change. We believe that it's rarely the idea that makes the business, so I'd encourage anyone who has passion, commitment, expertise and an interesting idea to apply to our programme.”

Continued focus and investment in the NorthWest’s tech ecosystem is a must if the region is going to continue to strengthen its position as we emerge from the pandemic. And with it  becoming increasingly apparent that it is not at all necessary for a growing or scaling startup to have a London base, the North West is where it’s at!

With dedicated support to nurture startups, excellent opportunities for investment as well as such an innate sense of passion and resilience amongst its people, we reckon that the North West ecosystem will continue to develop, build on its successes to date and be driven forward.



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Published on: 16th October 2020

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