Bite Digital

The view from the MPA: Jason Cozens, chief digital officer at Bite Digital

Posted on April 11, 2013 by Jason Cozens

Will the north west’s digital marketing sector see the same demise as its once great games industry?

Manchester Evening News

Last week, I had a drink with my colleagues in a trendy new bar. I marvelled at the plethora of young and enthusiastic digital marketing talent that was oscillating around me, a tangible buzz in the room.

You might think I was in London’s Shoreditch but, no I was in one of the new bars in Manchester’s Northern Quarter.

I haven’t felt that kind of vibe since we set up our digital marketing agency in the early 1990s, when we were occupied with the development of eCommerce, virtual reality and artificial intelligence. Back then, the north west was one of the world’s leading centres of games development (Psygnosis, Ocean, Warthog, Rage…).

Today, the UK computer games industry generates over £30bn a year but the north west’s is no longer a world centre, with much of the talent having moved to offices such as EA’s Guildford office, SW of London or further afield to other countries.

My worry is that the north west’s burgeoning digital marketing sector could follow a similar fate if is not given the support it deserves.

I know of an online business thinking of moving to Manchester from mainland Europe that got turned down for UK government funding because they thought it would erode British high street business.

I’ve got news for the government… the high street will be eroded if it doesn’t change into an experiential business and its online replacements are here to stay.

Manchester could and should be at the centre of that change but it needs business and government to get behind it in a similar way that government, Boris Johnson and Google have plans to create a Tech City in the growing cluster of internet companies based in the heart of London’s so-called ‘Silicon Roundabout’.

The north west has the young talent and the mature experience. It just needs stronger leadership, better funding and faith that it can be at the heart of the worlds digital future: innovating, creating solutions and jobs.

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