Focus industries

Manchester has played a pivotal role in shaping how the world does business. Birthplace of the Industrial Revolution, establishing the cooperative and free trade movements, Manchester continues to be a great city for industry and innovation and is recognised as one of Europe’s leading business destinations. It is the most successful city for attracting foreign direct investment outside London.

Creative, Digital & Technology

For 250 years, Manchester has been creating and shaping the future. Creativity and pioneering new ways of working are in our DNA. Birthplace of the first stored-program computer and the world’s first commercial computer, Manchester has continued to pioneer when it comes to computer science, software programming, and development.

One of Europe’s largest creative, digital and technology clusters, Manchester has a thriving community of businesses, from start-ups and home-grown companies that IPO above £1 billion such as and, to global players BBC, Google, IBM and Cisco. These companies sit side-by-side in our creative and digital clusters, incubators and co-working spaces, where they converge, collaborate and drive innovation.

This is complemented by four leading universities with a proven track record for collaborating with industry on ground-breaking R&D in areas from health to data analytics, cyber security, text mining and cloud computing. The universities also produce a constant stream of highly-skilled computer science graduates which further bolsters the industry.

The city’s global connectivity, collaborative hubs, a roster of meet-ups and networking events, talent pool, cost-effectiveness and business support offer make Manchester the place for companies looking to innovate and drive the future of creativity and technology.

Recognised as the UK's fastest growing and most economically productive city, Manchester is also the UK’s second largest creative, digital and tech hub. With strengths in software development, IoT, cybersecurity, data analytics and IT services on one end, and a heritage of broadcast & media production, animation, gaming, VFX, AR and VR on the other, Manchester is a place where creativity and technology are jointly driving the next wave of innovation.

Energy & Environment

Home to the largest low carbon sector in the UK outside London and the South East, Manchester is well placed to access the £3.4 trillion global low carbon market and has particular expertise in several key areas including nuclear and power transmission & distribution.

A progressive and driven city, Manchester is fully committed to the low carbon agenda and is a driving force in the trial and demonstration of new low carbon technologies and innovations. Over the next few years, it is estimated that Manchester will invest approximately £8-10 billion to decarbonize, creating significant opportunities for businesses.

Key Strengths

  • Nuclear: Manchester is located at the heart of the UK’s largest nuclear industry, home to significant nuclear-orientated businesses, including Nugen’s HQ and the world-leading Dalton Institute.
  • Power Distribution: Manchester is a world-class Transmission & Distribution and Smart Grid industry cluster which includes Siemens Transmission & Distribution; RXPE Power Engineering and WSP Parsons Brinckerhoff
  • Consultant Engineering: Manchester is home to  a large cluster of world-leading engineering practices such as Jacobs Engineering and Bouygues Energies & Services, providing a range of engineering, technical consultancy, and architectural services to national and international projects Financial and Legal Services: specialist low carbon financial and legal services are provided by the UK’s largest regional financial and professional services hub employing 250,000 people
  • Innovation Test Bed: world-leading research facilities, state-of-the-art science parks and dedicated “living labs” provide businesses with controlled and real-world environments to test and trial new low carbon innovations.

Financial, Professional & Business Services

Manchester has the largest regional Financial, Professional and Business Services (FPBS) industry outside of London. It is the most highly evolved, meaning it has depth and diversity in all disciplines from banking and financial services, insurance, legal, accountancy, consultancy and FinTech.

Manchester is also a leading back office operation location. With a proven track record of attracting, supporting and sustaining businesses, the region is home to over 45 shared service centres and 250 contact centres including global names such as Aegis, Latham and Watkins, Etihad Airways. 

With a number of global financial services companies located here, the city proudly counts large firms like BNY Mellon, Barclays, RBS and HSBC as major employers.

Over the last 10 years, Manchester’s FPBS sector has doubled in size and key developments such as the financial and professional services district, Spinningfields, has contributed to this. The area currently employs over 20,000 people.

Manchester has a significant talent pool in higher value areas of finance such as Derivatives, Complex Client Servicing, Recovery and Resolution Planning with many EMEA and Global Heads of Business based in the city. A number of banks have their head offices, regional offices or European operations centres in Manchester.

Manchester specialises in private banking, wealth and asset management. There is also a large presence of investment management front office and operational functions. Manchester is an important centre for corporate finance and private equity, particularly in the mid-market. The city is home to 20 private equity firms, the largest concentration outside of London.

Manchester has a long history as a key location for insurance and its related industries. The sector has the largest general insurance community outside London and a growing broker base with key employers including Aon, Marsh and Swinton. There are a significant number of life insurance companies and mutuals, as well as a strong intermediary sector.

Technology is playing an increasingly important role in financial services and Manchester has the talent to help companies grow their technology footprint.

Manchester, and the wider region, has a strong collection of FinTech companies and financial technology departments; from well-established businesses supporting the financial services sector to smaller firms developing innovative solutions disrupting current business models. Manchester’s strengths across FinTech include payments, platforms, software and data analytics.

Life Sciences & Healthcare

Manchester is at the cutting edge of health innovation. A city of firsts, Manchester introduced test tube babies to the world, pioneered hip replacement surgery and bionic eye implants. 

Manchester is the only UK city region to integrate health and social care and have devolved control of its £6 billion healthcare budget. This provides unique opportunities to improve patient outcomes, test new integrated delivery models, and adopt new systems and technologies.

A location for top global pharmaceutical, MedTech and healthcare companies, Manchester has a proven track record in establishing partnerships between industry, academia and the National Health Service (NHS). The city is home to Health Innovation Manchester, a unique partnership formed to speed up the discovery, development and delivery of innovative solutions. Addressing unmet clinical needs, its objective is to help improve the health of the almost three million people in Greater Manchester, and beyond. The eco-system provides invaluable expertise, and support, for businesses to navigate and optimize pathways to research, development, and adoption.

Advanced Manufacturing

Manchester innovates. It always has. It was the world’s first industrial city with the first factories and industrial estates and where Ford built their first cars in Europe. Today, the region is at the heart of the UK’s largest manufacturing and advanced engineering cluster; the North West of England.

Whether you are looking for a lab for testing or large scale manufacturing, Manchester has the infrastructure in place to support innovation and commercialization.

Manchester offers the complete package when it comes to manufacturing and advanced engineering. From R&D, architectural service and civil construction, to assembly, distribution and technical consultancy; our companies are well-established across the whole lifecycle. The region’s supply chain, talent, and access to market are why businesses like ARM, AECOM, BAE Systems, Balfour Beatty, Cargill, Heinz, Hitachi, Jacobs Engineering, Kellogg’s, NXP, Siemens, Unilever and WSP Parsons Brinckerhoff have a presence here.

Future-proof Manufacturing

The region’s four universities have world-class strengths in 3D printing, advanced materials, data analytics, electronics, surfaces and coatings, along with corrosion and demanding environments.

The universities have a track record of working with industry to deliver innovation in major industrial clusters, including aerospace, automotive, technical textiles and the nuclear industries. This provides an opportunity for manufacturers to take advantage of new and emerging technologies enabling them to innovate and create ‘smart factories’.