THE USA’s fifth largest bank, BNY Mellon, is about to celebrate 10 years in Manchester, a decade that has reinforced the wisdom of its decision. It now finds itself at the heart of the fastest-growing major city in the UK outside of London; itself the country that leads the G7 in terms of economic growth.
Steve Hayes-Allen, head of the site that houses more than 1,200 employees in one of six Global Delivery Centers, says the original reasons to move to the north of England’s leading city were because of its “excellent transport and business infrastructure and a wide and deep pool of talent.”
The bank has even more reason to be pleased with its decision now because of the major advances Manchester has made since its arrival. Today Manchester is the UK’s fastest growing creative, digital and tech hub and the city which led the industrial revolution is now a leader in the digital one.
Nor is BNY Mellon the only US company to establish itself in the city. Manchester’s legacy of innovation has attracted some of America’s leading companies and it is now home to Google, Microsoft, Kellogg’s, Intel, Cisco and IBM which has its R&D center in the city.
Having achieved its place in history at the forefront of the industrial revolution – whose spin off led to the early economic success of the US – Manchester gave the world its first stored-program computer and then split the atom.
Today, it is home to graphene, the wonder material that has been the focus of substantial investment from US companies who have been quick to realize its world-wide potential. The city houses the UK’s National Graphene Institute, a $93m state-of-the- art research facility, and two more centers of excellence – the Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre and the Sir Henry Royce Advanced Materials Institute – are on the way. These centers will help to accelerate taking graphene and 2D materials products to the marketplace and will cement Manchester’s position as the home of graphene.
❚ Manchester is the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution, the splitting of the atom and the isolation of the world’s thinnest and strongest material – graphene.
❚ There is access to 20 million consumers and 60% of the UK’s business base within two hours’ drive.
❚ Manchester airport handles more than 22 million passengers and serves over 200 destinations with non-stop flights to New York, Philadelphia, Washington DC, Chicago, Miami, Atlanta, Orlando, Las Vegas and, from summer 2016, Boston and Los Angeles.
❚ London can be reached within two hours by three trains every hour.
❚ Manchester has a metropolitan population of 2.7 million of which more than 1.8 million are of working age. It is the largest travel to work conurbation in the UK outside London, with 7.2 million people living within 50 miles of the city.
❚ It is home to more than 2,000 foreign owned companies.
❚ The Greater Manchester economy generates a GVA of $86 billion annually.
❚ Manchester’s universities are home to 106,000 students and produce 35,000 graduates
❚ There are 22 universities within an hour of Manchester and 515,000 students.
❚ The city is home to the UK’s largest academic campus and the largest clinical academic campus in Europe.
The UK government has noticed the city’s potential and is now looking to Manchester, along with other major northern cities, to lead the country out of austerity. David Cameron’s government has invested significant political capital in Manchester in particular as the flagship of what is known as the Northern Powerhouse initiative. This will form the central plank in a bid to rebalance the economy, moving away from overheated London where prohibitive property prices alone – Manchester’s are a quarter of those in the capital – are having a potentially negative effect on inward investment. Typically, salaries and operating costs are also 40% lower in Manchester than the UK’s capital.
In what is a major departure in the most centralized country in Europe, the UK Government has elected to devolve power to Manchester in the form of transport and skills. It has even handed over control of the $10 billion healthcare budget, providing the city with the platform to integrate primary and social care for its metropolitan population of 2.7 million, something that London has wanted but not so far achieved, and in doing so creating a potentially vast market for health innovation.
This is just a small part of the recent story of a city that has reinvented itself through building on its history of science and innovation prestige, a legacy that has been recognized with the title of European City of Science 2016.
Like Boston and San Francisco, this success has been achieved in part by its being a renowned university city, with the world famous University of Manchester having produced 25 Nobel Prize winners. Home to 106,000 students, its four world-class universities are responsible for creating some of the UK’s top tech developers, many working in the city’s collaborative creative and digital hubs, creating the next wave of innovation.
All of this growth is underpinned by the largest financial and of London. Apart from BNY Mellon, which handles trillions of dollars in investment through Manchester, the Bank of America Merrill Lynch can also be found just a short drive down the road in Chester.
Then of course you can’t forget the cultural dimension of Manchester. The city Smiths, The Hollies and Oasis on the music front is also home to the world famous Halle Orchestra. Nor can you mention Manchester without referring to soccer. It has two of the world’s biggest brands – Manchester United and Manchester City. The latter is the subject of heavy investment from Abu Dhabi in both the club and the city, who are also now behind New York City FC.
This goes some way toward explaining why Manchester made its way on to the New York Times Top 52 places to visit in the world in 2015 and why it’s consistently rated as “Europe’s Most Competitive Business Location” by KPMG in its Competitive Alternatives report.
“All this has made Manchester investment opportunity for US companies,” says Tim Newns, chief executive of MIDAS, Manchester’s inward investment agency.
“When former Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli said: ‘What Manchester does today, the rest of the world does tomorrow, it was true then, and increasingly is true today.”