Escape Velocity: Growing Salford’s Digital and Creative Economy

Publication Details

Escape Velocity: Growing Salford’s Digital and Creative Economy makes the case for continued Government and private sector investment in Salford’s digital and creative industries to safeguard and grow the already impressive cluster that has built up around MediaCityUK.

The report makes a series of recommendations for Government, The Greater Manchester Combined Authority and the City of Salford to ensure that Salford’s creative cluster continues to thrive and expand as a regional centre of excellence. The report also highlights Salford as a leading example of the value of cities and regions specialising in areas where they have a competitive advantage – investing in, and supporting those sectors where they can reasonably hope to compete with London and internationally.

Despite billions of pounds worth of investment and an impressive employment growth forecast of 22%, the report highlights the need to ensure that Salford’s success is safeguarded by making it the new ‘default option’ when it comes to investment in the digital and creative industries. MediaCityUK and the Greater Manchester brands have both been fundamental to the success of the cluster but they are not sufficient for the next phase of growth. It is time for Salford’s brand to grow as well – and to do so in a way that places the city’s emerging strengths as a hub for digital, broadcast and media at its heart

The UK Government’s Industrial Strategy seeks to identify a new framework for industrial planning and economic growth – focussed on sectors and places. As part of this, the Government has identified the need for cities and regions to develop Local Industrial Strategies and identify key strengths and opportunities that already exist within their localities.

MediaCityUK exemplifies the kind of industrial strategy – rooted in both sector specialisation and place – that the Government is committed to pursuing. It demonstrates how to enable a focussed approach to the formation of innovative clusters, which can develop competitive advantage and drive increased productivity at the local level. Furthermore, it shows how hubs can gather momentum and achieve ‘escape velocity’ – breaking away from London’s gravitational pull.

Phillip Blond, Director of ResPublica said: Salford is a prime example of the value of cities and regions specialising in areas where they have a competitive advantage and promoting economic growth outside of London. If the Government is truly committed to building prosperous communities across the UK as outlined in the Industrial Strategy White Paper I can think of no greater statement than encouraging Channel 4 to move to Salford to ensure that the city’s creative and digital cluster continues to thrive”.

Paul Dennett, Salford City Mayor said: “It’s fantastic to see the long-standing efforts of the City of Salford in economic and industrial planning being recognised in this ResPublica paper.  For decades our economic and industrial endeavours in Salford Quays have often been against the grain of national opinion and an imbalanced national economy.  Finally, I can see real potential for the tide to turn with the recent launch of the government’s Industrial Strategy and an acknowledgement of the importance of “place” and a desire to do things differently.”

“With a significant productivity challenge, low-pay crisis and growing imbalances in the beneficiaries of prosperity & growth sweeping the country, there has never been a stronger argument for devolution and re-assessing the way we encourage industrial planning and economic development within cities and city regions.”

“National government and local government, alongside key partners in business, industry and education are key drivers of economic prosperity & growth. Our input is essential if growth is to be sustainable, inclusive and fairly distributed across the United Kingdom. Similarly, it is essential if we are to build places, industries, projects and communities with character, and long-lasting appeal.

“That’s the success of what we’ve done in the City of Salford, a model for an economy that works for people”.

  • Max Wind-Cowie

    Deputy Director: ResPublica North

    Max Wind-Cowie is currently on secondment to the National Infrastructure Commission. Max has worked in policy development for over a decade, including senior roles at the think tank Demos, at Which? The Consumer Association and as a senior adviser to...

    Max Wind-Cowie