Young talent is the key to Manchester taking crown

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Young talent is the key to Manchester taking crown as UK’s Tech capital’ – says leading entrepreneur. Stimulating young talent to develop and grow through school, university and apprenticeships is the fundamental building block for Manchester’s bold bid to become the UK’s Tech Capital – founder and chairman of the ANS Group – told attendees at the CityCo ‘Knowledge and Innovation’ event yesterday sponsored Cisco.

Speaking to a 160-strong audience of Manchester’s senior key players yesterday, Scott Fletcher, Founder and Chairman of £50m turnover ANS Group said: “There is no sitting back on past glories in our industry, it’s all about constant reinvention and innovation and investment in young talent is the essential fuel for that transformation and growth.” The government spends £500m a year on apprenticeships across Manchester in ten Colleges. According to Fletcher, as a city with a tech focus, it is vital to steer as many of these apprenticeships towards the Tech sector as possible.

“Focusing our resources towards Tech will provide the necessary stimulus for Manchester to dominate the tech space in the years ahead.” Manchester is fast becoming the technology hub of the UK and much of the event was concerned with how to sustain this growth and maintain it for the future.The event was chaired by Rowena Burns, Chief Operating Officer of Bruntwood, Chair of Cityco and the CEO of Manchester Science Park, where ANS Group’s HQ is based. Alongside Scott Fletcher other speakers included Sir Howard Bernstein (the strategic vision for Manchester’s innovation and knowledge-based economic growth), Phil Smith (CEO of Cisco and Chairman of the UK Technology Strategy Board) and Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell (President of Manchester University).

Fletcher’s ANS Group have seen a rapid journey to a £50m plus turnover business taking private companies and government departments into the Cloud, which Fletcher puts down to entrepreneurial spirit and approach to innovation. “The Tech sector is obviously fluid and businesses need to re-invent themselves at least every three years. There is no resting on our laurels if we want our organisations and Manchester to be number one”.

Fletcher said that much of the city’s technological success was and will continue to be due to Tech SMEs being able to connect together within Manchester with other businesses and investors and pointed to key projects like The Sharp Project as the way to maintain momentum. The Sharp Project provides a home for digital and technology entrepreneurs and production companies. Initiatives such as this hot bed of tech innovation are vital to the success of Manchester becoming the UK’s leading Tech city and a key reason for ANS Group choosing The Sharp Project to build their new £8m Datacentre.

Fletcher told the event that during a chance encounter with the Business Development Director of EON Reality, who are moving their European headquarters to the Manchester Tech Hub, he asked why a Californian based business had chosen Manchester. He was told that it was because of the ‘drive, skills and passion of the people of Manchester’. “EON will be bringing 240 new jobs to Manchester but in twenty years time we will be able to look back and see this decision as the creator of up to 20,000 new jobs,” said Fletcher. “Businesses will grow around them. The ripple effect will occur from the businesses flourishing around the initial plantings. There will be a direct correlation to that.” “If we want to realise our rightful status as the UK Tech Capital we all need to work together. Business, education and the public sector must be coordinated and have a clear voice and agenda. It’s critical that we work together collaboratively if we want to influence government policy.”

Fletcher reiterated the vital importance of tech apprenticeships in reinforcing Manchester’s tech City ambitions. “Providing on the job apprentice training is every bit as important as a finding tech and science graduates as young people are leaving school without skills in tech.”