There’s no question about the hysteria caused as a result of the Brexit vote. Confusion and uncertainty linger in the air, while political leaders scramble for a realistic plan on how to shape the future of the UK. But is there cause for widespread panic? Perhaps not, particularly for media-centric cities like Manchester.
Up until Brexit cast its long shadow across the economic landscape, there had been a plethora of articles ranking Manchester on the top of lists of cool cities, artsy cities, sports cities, vibrant cities, the best place to live cities, etc. With its rich industrial pedigree and gritty attitude, the once smog-soaked city has become a beacon of light for modern regeneration. Manchester also happens to be a hub of some of the most exciting media and PR activity in the country, and should take its place amongst behemoths like New York, London and Los Angeles.
Manchester has reinvented itself many times before; as an industrial powerhouse, textile giant, the first major artery in the UK canal system via the Bridgewater Canal, the birthplace a British music invasion (Oasis, Stone Roses, Happy Mondays, Joy Division, Simply Red, etc.) and home of the iconic cobbles of imaginary Weatherfield on Coronation Street. So when exactly did our tech-driven identity begin?
We can point to the introduction of the first passenger train in 1761 as a great technological and industrial breakthrough to come out of the North West. However, a truly global disruption came in 1803 when John Dalton presented his paper on the concept of atoms and chemical reactions, which changed the trajectory of science forever.
Certainly, one of the most transformative inventions of all time was that of the computer. You’d be forgiven for thinking this phenomenal piece of equipment was patched together by wires and tin cans in the garage of Steve Jobs or a test lab at IBM. Actually, the Manchester Mark 1 (or Manchester Automatic Digital Machine dubbed MADM) was developed at the Victoria University of Manchester and was operational by June of 1948. By the end of 1950, it was replaced by the Ferranti Mark 1 which was the first commercially available electronic computer in the world. Legendary mathematician Alan Turing reportedly introduced the forward slash to coding for computer programs as a nod to the ‘famously dismal rain’ seen outside the University windows.
Thus began the legacy of technology students flocking to Greater Manchester’s many top universities. Fast forward a few decades, and a profound turning point took place when the mighty BBC announced plans to relocate its headquarters from the country’s capital of London to the quays of Salford. On the heels of the Beebs move up north, an explosion of digital start-ups sprang up in MediaCityUK, which continues to attract innovators. And thanks to the recent invention of Graphene – the ultra-slim but superbly strong material with its implications for the technology and building sectors – the Northern Powerhouse has flourished.
So why is this good news for the British economy? Because we live in a digital world now, and as a true leader in technology and media, the demand for these services will likely be the future of growth for the country. With the infrastructure already in place to continue to easily scale to meet demand, Manchester is uniquely poised as a digital force to be reckoned with for many years to come. So turn off those ad blockers and do your bit to get Britannia back on her feet.