By Monica Takacs, Pittsburgh Technology Council

As I sat on the coach on our way to Bristol on Wednesday night, I reflected on our day in Manchester. Greater Manchester is a lot different from London. From its working-class roots to its size, some might say that it’s similar to Pittsburgh. Using the British Airways direct flight to London, visitors can easily springboard North to Manchester, through an easy airport connection or a 2-hour train ride from Euston Station in London.

Manchester sells itself like Pittsburgh. They are proud of their sense of community and their “roll up their sleeves and get the job done” attitude. With a cost of living around 40% less than London and an international airport that’s only 20 minutes by train away, Manchester has a lot of benefits. Manchester attracts a talent pool beyond its metropolitan border. People from Leeds, Liverpool, and beyond call Manchester their place of work and commute by a quick and frequent train service. Over 10.5 million people live within a one-hour commute.

Similar to Pittsburgh, Manchester is also a “livable city” beating out all other UK cities in the Economist’s ‘Global Livability Index’ for 2019. Key technology sectors in Manchester are creative & digital tech, advanced manufacturing, financial & professional services, and life sciences. Manchester is strategically working to showcase itself as a tech hub and is working with support of  the Northern Powerhouse, the government’s vision for a super-connected, globally-competitive northern economy with a flourishing private sector, a highly-skilled population, and world-renowned civic and business leadership and works closely with the UK’s Department of International Trade.

Our host in Manchester was MIDAS. MIDAS is Manchester’s inward investment agency, with a strategic aim to secure significant levels of new investment and employment for the city region. This is achieved through the global business marketing of Manchester, targeting key markets and sectors, and the provision of an extensive, free and confidential package of advice and assistance for location consultants and potential investors.

We saw a variety of co-working spaces in the city, including All Work & Social, The Bright Building, living lab for tech and innovation, home to CISCO Mi-idea, accelerator at Manchester Science Park (MSP), and MediaCityUK, located in the Salford neighborhood. Each location was unique offering a wide array of amenities.  Our delegation was impressed with Manchester and its similarities to Pittsburgh were a comfort.