The government's attempt to turn the North of England into a giant tech hub moved a step closer this week after Tech City UK, the taxpayer-funded organisation tasked with boosting the UK tech sector, revealed its intent to hire a management team to oversee the development of deputy prime minister Nick Clegg’s TechNorth initiative.
TechNorth will aim to coordinate the existing digital technology expertise of Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield, Liverpool and Newcastle.
The five roles being advertised on the Tech City UK jobs board are head of TechNorth, head of marketing, head of inward investment, head of digital skills, head of startup ecosystem.
Speaking in October last year, Clegg said: “We’ve listened to local business leaders and there is a clear need for us to seize an opportunity to capitalise on existing tech talent by creating a Northern tech hub to rival Berlin, New York, or Shanghai.
“My ambition, over time, is to double the number of tech jobs in the North, creating a stronger economy. To put this in context – it is estimated there are about 200,000 ICT jobs in the region currently.”
It is unclear how much the government is investing in the TechNorth initiative but Tech City UK is funded with close to £2 million a year.
Tech City UK has been criticised for failing to deliver anything of any real value to UK tech startups by fast-growing firms like enterprise collaboration service Huddle and room-booking service One Fine Stay.
The Tech City UK management team includes CEO Gerard Grech, who used to work for Blackberry, and chair Joanna Shields, who has held senior positions at Facebook and Google and is now David Cameron's digital advisor.
TechNorth is part of Clegg’s Northern Futures project, which was launched last July.