So why has Manchester and the surrounding region not created a Facebook, Google, LinkedIn or global giant for a such a long time?
We have so many fantastic stories of success, one of which I was with yesterday JD Sports plc based in Bury. This is just an amazing story from one shop in Bury in the early 80’s to a business today turning over some £800M and employing 10,000 people. They also have made acquisitions and joint ventures in New Zealand, Australia, USA, France and Hong Kong. Having spent an hour with Executive Chairman Peter Cowgill yesterday you see why they have done what they have done – commercial focus, attention to the audience they serve, people development coupled with personal energy, drive, vision and a sense of grounded humility are key ingredients of creating such a success story.
The key for the economy going forward is that we need to create, nurture and support more of these companies. So what is the blocker? Why is the University not creating more companies of this scale – after all Manchester has more Nobel Prize winners than any other university in the UK (after Cambridge, London and Oxford). So what is the problem?
1. Lack of funds
2. Insufficient scaleable business ideas
3. Lack of ambition and big thinking
4. Lack of connectivity between entrepreneurs and funders
5. Poorly developed networks
Well from what I see and hear there is no shortage of funds, an entrepreneurial culture, massive talent and well qualified individuals – something is not right with the infrastructure. We have some fantastic businesses in Manchester, but not enough of the scale such as JD.
So what is the missing bit of the jigsaw?