TechNorth, the brainchild of former deputy prime minister Nick Clegg, is held in higher regard than London's Tech City, according to research out today.
A survey of more than 100 UK IT executives by recruitment firm Robert Half Technology reveals 87 percent of companies would be “highly or somewhat likely” to prioritise working with IT businesses in Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield, Liverpool, and the North East (collectively dubbed TechNorth) over those in London’s Tech City, providing it was a "viable option".
Every IT leader in the North said they would likely prioritise working with companies in the North, while 95 percent of people in Scotland gave the same response. The figure fell to 80 percent in London and the South East and 75 percent in the South West and Wales.
The stated aim of TechNorth is to bring together pockets of excellence in technology industries across the North to form an internationally renowned tech hub that could one day rival Silicon Valley.
The UK government has allocated £2 million towards the development of TechNorth and a team headed by former ClearlySo CFO Claire Braithwaite in Manchester's trendy Northern Quarter is driving the initiative.
But TechNorth, like the rest of the UK, could be held back by a lack of skilled professionals, in the eyes of those surveyed.
Nearly a third (31 percent) said lack of available talent is the key inhibiting factor to the development of the TechNorth cluster.
Other challenges include access to venture capital (cited by 27 percent of IT leaders), poor infrastructure/transport links (21 percent), the fact that TechNorth will be a cluster of cities rather than a single hub location (seven percent) and international appeal (seven percent).
Neil Owen, director at Robert Half Technology, said: “The fact that IT leaders already see TechNorth as a viable source of IT services reflects the success of technology businesses in the region to date and the importance of the technology industry to the UK economy as a whole.
“Employers looking to build on that success need to prioritise the attraction, recruitment and retention of the industry’s most skilled technology talent by offering competitive pay and benefits, remembering that along with financial remuneration, technical training, flexible working and new technology challenges are extremely important for IT professionals. It will also be vital to act quickly when offering jobs to preferred candidates and to involve decision makers from the business early to avoid a protracted recruitment process.”