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Andy Burnham plans to make Manchester world-leading digital hub

Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham announces plans to make the region one of the “best digital hubs in the world”, and a £2m digital skills fund

Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham has revealed ambitious plans to make the city region a world-leading digital hub.

The strategy includes a £2m digital skills fund, particularly focused on young people, to boost tech education and get more women into the industry. Burnham challenged local tech businesses to add to the funding pot to support tech initiatives in the city.

Speaking at the Greater Manchester Digital Summit today, Burnham said he wanted Greater Manchester to be the UK’s leading digital city, and among the top five in Europe. He said the summit was about getting “some very key people in the room to help us establish Greater Manchester forward as a world-beating digital city”.

“I want them to help me write a new ambitious digital plan for our city region,” he said. “Our goal is to be the best in the UK, but I want everyone at the summit to have an input into how we do that and I will ask them to shape ideas with me.

“This is an incredible opportunity. My vision is for Greater Manchester to challenge neighbours in London, Bristol, Oxford and Cambridge to be the UK’s leading digital city. I have gathered the brightest and most influential tech people here and together we will achieve that.”

Burnham also announced plans to establish a Greater Manchester digital infrastructure board to boost creativity across the region. He said digital innovation and “prowess” could also help create a more equal society.

“My passion truly lies in this idea of ‘tech for good’ and encouraging our great digital minds to think about the challenges in our society, creating tech to tackle them,” he said.

“It would be fantastic if we led the country in encouraging digital innovation which supports businesses and investment, creating jobs and opportunity, but focusing on improving outcomes for people such as loneliness or homelessness in our society.”

Manchester already has a vibrant tech community. The 2017 Tech Nation report found that the region has the UK’s fourth-highest total digital turnover at £2.9bn, and nearly 900 startups have begun life in the city. Last year, Manchester featured in the European Digital City Index top 20 for starting and scaling digital tech businesses.

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