Manchester’s got everything except a beach

Castlefield <3

I spent sometime in London over the last few weeks for connected studio and a number of work meetings. I got to see a bunch of people I had not seen for a long while and most asked me…

“So how is Manchester, you don’t regret moving?”

Or something along those lines…

My answer is always something like you should come up and stay sometime, its a great city. Almost 5 years and I’m loving it… The great thing is I’m not the only one spotting the fantastic opportunities available. Specially when it comes to the digital world.

The second factor is the sense that a genuine startup culture is being fostered here. The elements have always been in place for this to occur, particularly that Manchester has the largest student population in Europe with over 100,000 currently studying in the city’s five universities.

These include the University of Manchester, which is playing a really important role in the high-tech space. Meanwhile the University of Salford has recently opened a campus at MediaCityUK, designed to encourage creativity, innovation and collaboration between academics, students, professionals and industry, and develop talent for the creative, media and technology industries.

Between the BBC building a massive base here, TechhubManchester, the stupid amount of bandwidth being put into the city and other stories. Its worth mentioning some of the other things happening…

MadLabUK

Essentially a adult/hacker community space complete with different floors running a number of different community minded events. Its amazing and they have expanded already. The owners (4 of them!) hold it all together and even though they struggle most of the time, theres always something interesting on for the local community. I can’t explain how great Madlab is… Everything from Co-working, room hire to the random Art exhibitions and Hackman meetup. Madlab is also the first place to start dabbling with DIYBio which further demonstrates how great a place it is. Well worth a visiting always…

The Classroom

The Classroom is a welcome treat sitting between the likes of working out of a coffee shop and the likes of Techhub which is much more serious about there startup status. It is a co-working space but closer to the kind of thing I’ve only witnessed in San Francisco. Its still quite new but looks to be growing due to the demand.

Northology

The brain child of Nathan Rae (can be found regularly behind a camera on the Manchester scene), setup to highlight key people in the Manchester scene. I had a similar idea a while ago but it didn’t quite work out (smallworld). However Northology is now on its 9th podcast and doesn’t look like its stopping anytime soon. Who knows maybe it will expand to video one day?

FabLab

Manchester’s fabrication laboratory is next door to where I live. Its still doing a great business and I really do need to find something to build. Easily confused with MadLab but completely different, I need a project just so I can mess with the 3D printer, welders, laser cutters, etc.

…and the many coffee shops and bars in the northern quarter and cholton

There are too many coffee shops and bars in the northern quarter and cholton which are friendly to people who want to work out of them or just chillax on a Sunday afternoon. Unlike many places I’ve been to in other cities which will lock down there wifi, block power points and make you feel like a baby eater for sitting 10mins beyond the end of your allocated tea time. Some of the most notable including… North Tea Power, FYG Deli, Common, Soup Kitchen, Vivid Lounge, North Star cafe, Home Sweet Home, sugar junction, etc, etc…

Author: Ianforrester

Senior firestarter at BBC R&D, emergent technology expert and serial social geek event organiser.