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Why is there no tech startup ecosystem in Manchester?

by on February 14, 2012 in Nuggets, Regional, Small Business, Startups

 Martin Bryant reports… The short version: There’s a Manchester Startups Facebook group, and please let me know about startups to add to the list in this post, and ideas of next steps, in the comments. Now here’s the long version… Martin Bryant reports ..  Today I gave a short talk at TEDx Manchester about something that’s been on my mind for a good while now – why there’s no tech startup ecosystem in Manchester.

The video of the talk will be online soon, but the short version is that while we have a number of successful Internet companies based in (or with a significant presence in) Manchester – hello Laterooms, Myriad and the like – and a number of young companies plugging away at innovative Internet-focused products, there’s no real ‘scene’ to support them.

I used the word ‘hub’ in my talk but that gets people thinking about physical spaces. Arguably there’s room for incubator space like that (a model being followed in Newry, Northern Ireland, for example), but even just meetups for tech entrepreneurs and an online space for them to meet, would be a good start.

When I spoke to one startup, Capsool, recently they told me that they didn’t really know any other startups in Manchester. Imagine if, instead of being isolated and looking to London for contacts and support, they could get it right here in Manchester – arguably the most inspiring, exciting, dynamic city in the UK outside of the M25.

UPDATE: Crazy of me to miss off the fact that Manoj Ranaweera runs Techcelerate, which acts as a meeting place for startups in Manchester, although events are often accompanied by a fee. That’s one part of what’s going on (and I’ve seen some great talks there and met some interesting people) but hopefully a wider, organic scene can grow in Manchester.

So, following on from today’s talk, this post is here to do a couple of things. One: host a list of Manchester Internet tech startups. Two: host suggestions of what to do next, via the comments.

Startups in Manchester

Here’s a list of startups that spring immediately to mind that are based in the Greater Manchester area, a brief description of what they do and a link where available. I’m sure I’ve missed a few that I’ve met (sorry!) so please add your names and URLs in the comments if you want to be added.

The Agile Planner – A work planning tool for developers

App55 – One-click payments solution for retailers.

CANDDi – Sales data intelligence product for businesses.

Capsool – Messaging-focused startup. First project is the Jubilee Time Capsule.

Capsule CRM – CRM solution.

Crowd.fm – Event promotion tool

Edocr – Document sharing startup.

Murmr – Stealth-mode startup doing something interesting – but that’s all I can say.

Persian Cat Press – Interactive book apps for iOS.

PublishMyData – Linked data publishing platform

ReSporter – Sport-focused Twitter aggregation app from Head First Communications

Scoopd – Curated news

SurveyMe – Real-time customer surveys for businesses.

Video News Agency – A way for promotional videos and their B-roll to find use in broadcast TV, from PR firm SKV.

That’s a small list for sure (but it’s being updated as more names come in!), but they’re the ones that spring to mind as I sit on a sofa on a Monday evening. I’m sure there are more.

Please add to it with suggestions of startups that are creating innovative digital products to operate as businesses (not for clients) in the comments.

A Facebook group

One easy first move would be a Facebook group along the lines of the 1100-strong Berlin Startups group. There’s also a more exclusive Berlin Founders group where the CxOs get to swap information in a more private forum.

So, on a whim – here’s a Facebook Group: Manchester Startups. Aimed at anyone involved in a Manchester startup or interested in getting involved, please sign up if you’re interested. I know some people are Facebook-averse, but it’s a first step to get the ball rolling.

What next?

If you have any ideas, or are organising anything to bring a Manchester startup scene going, please do leave a comment below or email me (martin AT martinbryant.net).

This isn’t me putting myself forward as anything more than a cheerleader for entrepreneurial, digital activity in the city, and we still need those who lead Manchester to recognise the potential that well-supported high-growth startups can achieve.

Right – I’m hitting ‘Publish’. Let’s see if this leads to anything…

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