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Creative and tech industries

New CBRE ranking of regional cities’ creative and tech prospects shows big cities moving up the rankings, with Manchester still #1

Creative and tech industries

Creative industries are more important to the UK than ever. From tech to media and telecoms, the sector has flourished since the end of the financial crisis ten years ago, and grown at a rate that cannot be ignored. And this is set to continue, as creative industries continue to diversify their local economies and provide a much-needed boost during economic downturns.

In six of the UK's biggest cities (Birmingham, Manchester, Glasgow, Leeds, Edinburgh, and Bristol) the creative sector’s compound annual growth rate has exceeded that of any other private sector industry at 9% since 2008, according to CBRE take-up figures.

To further lift the lid on this exciting dynamic, we have updated CBRE’s UK Creative Regions ranking, which includes a wide range of demographic and economic indicators, to identify shifts in the top UK cities’ creative and tech profiles over the last 18 months. We have used the same methodology as in our previous report to ensure that the results are comparable; and as with the original study, London was excluded due to its dominating effect on the rankings.

Figure 1: CBRE UK Creative Cities, 2017 and 2018 compared (Primary urban areas)

053_Creative and Tech industries_figure 01_Graphic_746x746

Source: CBRE Research, 2018

CBRE has also recently published a new analysis of the leading tech cities across the whole of Europe. Our EMEA Tech Cities Report ranks London as the top technology cluster within the capital cities and business centres with high-tech employment of over 70,000 people in Europe.

Setting London aside, our 2018 UK Creative Regions ranking and EMEA Tech Cities report shows that:

  • Manchester remains the leading UK regional creative talent market despite a decrease in its overall score. The city continues to attracts significant numbers to its creative and digital cluster
  • Birmingham and Glasgow both pushed up the UK rankings. Birmingham performed particularly well, topping the rankings for the largest number of SMEs in the information and communications sector
  • Nottingham climbed five places due to an increase in the number of employees in information and communications. Likewise, in our wider European study, Nottingham/Derby came out ahead of the other European locations in their ‘Growth Cluster’ peer group, and has consistently achieved double digit growth in high-tech employment since 2010
  • Leeds also ranked highly in this pan-European peer group. Listed as the sixth most creative region in the UK ranking, the City climbed four spaces this year as a result of the hike in the population educated to degree-level and above
  • Thames Valley, which is home to tech hotspots Reading, Oxford and Bracknell, hosts many traditional tech companies such as Microsoft, Vodafone and Oracle. Reading was the only location to disrupt the big six cities by securing its place in every one of the six top spots in our study. CBRE’s European study, meanwhile, showed Thames Valley to be the leading ‘Super Cluster’ – a location with high-tech employment between 50,000 and 70,000.

53_Creative and Tech industries_pullquote_270x127Led by London, UK cities are already a prominent force in the European technology ecosystem, from an employment, leasing and talent perspective. The creative industries are rapidly growing and dynamically evolving and, as we have revealed through both CBRE’s Occupier Survey and Portfolio 2040 report, their importance to the UK economy as a whole is clear as the war for talent continues to intensify. And as UK cities look to the future, they will need to offer the right mix of incentives to attract the talent required to lead creative and tech industries in the future.

So, when CBRE comes to revise its rankings in 2040, we predict that the most prominent tech cities will be the ones that have adapted to attract and retained the talent this pioneering sector needs to maximise its success.

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Martin Guest
Managing Director, Midlands & South
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John Ogden
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