4 Reasons why Manchester is the UK’s Top Regional Creative Hub

A major coup came for Manchester this week as the city was named number one in a list of the UK’s top regional creative talent market places.

In their new report ‘Creative Regions’, CBRE rounded up the 25 areas outside of London which most excel in the creative industries, and what do you know, the home of the Industrial Revolution came out on top. Making up the rest of the top five were Reading, Edinburgh, Cambridge and Glasgow. In the same week it was claimed that the Conservative government had given Britain “the most exciting creative industry on the planet”, Manchester proved it’s not so grim up here after all.

Of course, those in the know won’t be too surprised given our rising prominence in the creative landscape over the last decade, notably given extra credence by the move of the BBC to Salford. The report states that the areas on the list are ‘best positioned to benefit from and to nurture future growth in the creative sector’ and took into account a number of factors such as creative industry businesses, graduate talent, and research quality of universities. So how exactly did Manchester earn this latest exciting accolade?


  1. We Have Award-Winning Creative Industry Businesses by the Bucketload

As reported earlier this month, the Northern Powerhouse is home to more than 37,500 creative industry businesses, with Manchester at the heart of it, boasting 5,000 creative and tech companies. There has been more foreign investment in Manchester than any other city outside of London and we have 54,400 people working in creative and digital companies (there are 1.3m people in employment in Manchester overall).

In the creative, digital and technology sectors alone, our GVA is £3.1 billion and our city houses its fair share of creative companies which have had IPOs of over £1bn, including Boohoo and AO.com, plus international players like BBC, Google, IBM.  The online fashion industry alone has seen an incredible rise in the last few years, with other brands such as Missguided and Pretty Little Thing giving us an extra stamp of authority on the creative map. And following in the BBC’s wake were a range of other key players in the entertainment industry, with Manchester leading the way in the surge of film and television production now taking place in the North.

In 2014, council leader Sir Richard Leese spoke of the creative industries’ impact on the UK’s economic recovery, and the huge role Manchester plays in that as a ‘thriving creative cluster’, the second-biggest in Europe after London.

Prominent Manchester sites housing some of our region’s best creative and digital businesses include MediaCityUK, The Sharp Project, Manchester Science Partnerships, Corridor Manchester, the Northern Quarter, and even The Manchester Craft & Design Centre, which has long showcased emerging creative talent in the area.

Even former sites of creative prominence are still held in high esteem and repurposed, such as the old Granada TV studios and the Factory Records building (showing that our creative history certainly doesn’t have its beginnings within the last decade alone).

In 2014, the Guardian reported that Manchester was thriving in the creative sector despite receiving less funding than London – ironic proof indeed of the value gained from investing in the region.


  1. Our Property Market Gives Incredible Value Outside of the Capital

Manchester has up to 40% lower operation costs than London, making it a big draw for many creative businesses who might have formerly believed that being in the capital was essential for success.

Our housing market has witnessed the biggest property boom in the country this year, with an 8.8% growth year on year – yet prices are still significantly lower than London, making Manchester a great place to buy.

Office space in ManchesterCredit: The Co-operative (One Angel Square), via Wikimedia Commons

Office space costs are much more affordable up here and in the final quarter of 2016, Manchester saw the biggest amount of office space taken in seven years. Plus, over 50% of the spaces in question were over 10,000 square feet in size. A large portion of that space is being let by creative industries and there are many new prime office developments due for completion this year around St Peter’s Square, Spinningfields and First Street.

  1. Our Universities Are Leading the Way in Creative Studies

Manchester has four universities providing world-class education for over 99,000 students at any one time.

The University of Salford has been marked as a leading centre for media education with the awarding of its Skillset Media Academy status, and its School of Arts and Media is home to over 4,000 creative students, studying everything from fashion to television and radio, journalism, music, animation, creative writing and much more. Its MediaCityUK location provides the perfect base with its proximity to numerous digital and media organisations.

Media City ManchesterCredit: Marcus B

  1. We Have an Award-Winning Digital Marketing Sector

The digital marketing community in Manchester is incredible, with twenty of Prolific North’s Top 50 Digital Agencies all being based here. At every turn there is a new marketing agency pushing the boundaries of digital advertising – and we’re not short on awards ourselves, being the Best SEO and PPC Agency at the 2016 Prolific North Awards and also taking home Big Chip and Smarta 100 prizes.

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