In the government’s latest TechNation report, TechCityUK has named Liverpool one of the top five fastest growing tech clusters in the country, second only to Bournemouth and ahead of Inner London.
Liverpool saw tech cluster growth of 119% in 2014, with city companies specialising in advertising and marketing, software development, and games development.
Liverpool is reported to be particularly notable for its games development and benefits from a rich history in this space. Psygnosis, founded in Liverpool in 1984, was a pioneer in racing games development in the UK and was quickly bought by Sony.
Liverpool’s long-established gaming heritage from the 1990s is reflected in the current picture. Since the closure of Sony Studio Liverpool in 2012, talented developers have formed a number of local companies, including umbrella studio Starship and games company Firesprite. There are also growing clusters focused on IoT and HealthTech, as well as a strong ecosystem of mobile app development and creative agencies, including Studio Mashbo and Draw+Code.
The Baltic Triangle, the agency and gaming heartland, has become an important hub for the cluster, providing a variety of high-quality working spaces – such as Baltic Creative – for digital technology businesses. Away from this area, Liverpool DoES provides a co-working space, workshop and events hub for entrepreneurs and makers. A small but growing cluster of education and health firms are also located in the Liverpool Science and Innovation Park. Support organisations include Liverpool Vision, which also supports an e-health cluster as part of the TSB-supported More Independent programme.
Key benefits to working in Liverpool included:
- An informal network of entrepreneurs: affordable property is available in the cluster, supported by funding Liverpool has received from the European Regional Development Fund and the Northwest Regional Development Agency. In particular, as part of the development of Baltic Creative’s development, a Community Interest Company.
- Access to finance: Access to finance is key in Liverpool due to the strong concentration of gaming and digital creative companies that require significant investment for development. A number of companies, such as Sentric Music, have relied on finance from outside the region. However, this is improving with the NW Fund, Merseyside Special Investment Fund, Mayoral Investment Fund, and Standfast (focused on the games industry).
Kevin McManus, head of Creative & Digital Investment Liverpool Vision, said:
“Liverpool has the beginnings of an eHealth and tele-care cluster. We have a chance to steal a march on other UK cities in this field.”
Emile Colman, CEO of Globall Coach, added:
“A new generation of startups has grown from the skills base left over from companies such as Sony. I think the growth is also linked to the inherent entrepreneurial spirit that runs throughout Liverpool as a city.”
Words: Peter Cribley