In this short, visual article we present five charts that show why Manchester is such a rich, vibrant and economically prosperous city. Our view is that the ingredients of connectivity, culture, talent, scale and scientific heritage make the city well-equipped to thrive in the coming years and decades.
Manchester’s cultural and scientific heritage
Before we look forward, let’s reflect on the past. Manchester has been a hub of creativity and innovation for centuries.
1653 - The UK’s first free public library built.
1783 - Richard Arkwright set up the first mill to use steam power.
1803 - John Dalton’s atomic theory.
1830 - The world’s first passenger railways started operating.
1850 - The first law in thermo-dynamics was discovered by James Prescott Joule.
1853 - John Benjamin Dancer invented micro-photography and microfilms.
1896 - The first purpose built industrial estate was created at Trafford Park.
1908 - The first British plane was designed and flown by A V Roe.
1917 - Ernest Rutherford discovered how to split the atom.
1948 - The first computer with a stored program and memory was developed.
2005 - First 3D printer of human tissue developed.
2010 - Scientists awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics for their work on Graphene.
2016 - The first UK city to be awarded the prestigious accolade of European City of Science.
A magnet for talent
Access to talented and creative people is to modern business what access to coal and iron ore was to steel-making. Large agglomerations of highly skilled people are therefore critical to a city’s prospects. Manchester has over 100,000 students across four universities, producing 28,000 graduates a year. 51 per cent of students choose to remain in the city.
The clusters that drive Manchester’s growth
Being part of a cluster provides companies with easier access to information and technology, while providing efficiencies in sourcing inputs such as labour. This enables a city’s firms to be more productive. Manchester was consistently identified as having one of the top three largest sectoral agglomerations in the UK by the government (2017).
The UK’s largest regional city economy
Agglomeration benefits exist when firms and people locate near one another as co-location makes the exchange of goods and ideas easier and cheaper. The larger the agglomeration, the greater the benefits. Greater Manchester has a population of 2.7 million and the deepest pool of highly skilled labour in centres outside of London. The area has access to more commuters than any regional conurbation in the country: seven million people live within an hour’s drive of the city centre.
Globally renowned as a city of culture
Manchester is home to two of the world’s richest football clubs, bringing the city to the attention of a global audience. It is also famous for its vibrant musical heritage – from the Bee Gees to Joy Division, Happy Mondays to Harry Styles – and the Manchester International Festival, a cutting-edge arts event. These cultural attractions are part of the reason why the city is the third most popular among tourists to the UK.
A highly connected city region
Good connectivity within a city provides access to larger labour pools and facilitates density. More than 5.6 million journeys are made across Greater Manchester’s transport network each day.