A few weeks ago I decided to take a trip out of London to check out the budding tech scene in Manchester, so I duly bounded a Virgin train from Euston and arrived in a rainy Manchester a little over two hours later, an easy journey.
I was met by the kind people from MIDAS and was taken around the up and coming tech hotspots.
Manchester has an enormous student population with three large universities so I thought this would potentially be an alternative to the growing London tech scene.
Our first stop was in the old Sharp factory, now renamed to The Sharp Project, a vast 200,000 sq ft aircraft hangar type space which is very modern and warm despite its size. Inside there are many available units in all manner of configurations. For startups its cheap as chips; you can rent a shipping container which has been convered into an office within the building for between £50 and £85 pw, this will accommodate between four and six people comfortably.
There are also a lot of creative events happening at The Sharp Project to try to start to build a community among the tenants and to attract other companies to locate there.
As you probably know the BBC is relocating up there as well as ITV in a place called Media City on the Salford Quays. One of the big draws of for TV, Creative and Digital companies to Manchester is the astonishing connectivity speeds to the web, The Sharp Project boasts it's "own non- contended symmetric “on net” connectivity".
All this points to a great start to an alternative to London. However to make it work they need to bring people together and build an eco system much like Silicon Roundabout in the East End of London, there you can go to one or two tech related events every day!