Government tech department to set up Manchester HQ

DSIT to open a second location in Salford, Greater Manchester Image credit: danielbbozek / Shutterstock

The UK government is establishing a second headquarters for its science and technology department in Salford, Greater Manchester.

The move will create hundreds of additional roles in Greater Manchester, the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT) said on Tuesday.

DSIT, along with Building Digital UK – the department responsible for rolling out broadband and mobile coverage in hard-to-reach areas – currently have nearly 200 staff based in Manchester.

The government said it plans to double that number “over the coming years”.

The new location comes as part of a government commitment to increase the number of civil service roles outside of London and the South East to 22,000 by 2027. More than 16,000 roles have been moved so far as part of the government’s levelling up agenda.

DSIT has identified Greater Manchester as one of its “active growth locations” alongside Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Darlington and Edinburgh.

Manchester is widely seen as the UK’s largest tech hub outside of London. Tech companies based in Manchester raised a collective £532m in funding last year – the highest outside the UK capital and South East.

Manchester is home to ecommerce giants THG and Boohoo, along with many up-and-coming startups in verticals ranging from fintech to electric vehicles. According to data provider Beauhurst, there were 658 active high-growth companies in Manchester as of 2022.

Greater Manchester has a track record for science and technology innovation. It is where the first artificial splitting of the atomic nucleus took place and where ‘wonder material’ graphene was discovered.

“Greater Manchester is steeped in a legacy of technological progress, rooted in the Industrial Revolution and long home to scientific pioneers like Alan Turing and Ernest Rutherford,” said Michelle Donelan, the science and tech secretary.

“By establishing our second headquarters here, we not only tap into a pool of exceptional talent but also ensure that policymakers responsible for the growth of science and technology live and work alongside a dynamic community of sci-tech leaders.”

The move was welcomed by Katie Gallagher, MD of Manchester Digital and chair of the UK Tech Cluster Group.

“It’s not surprising that our region has been selected by the government as we have seen such enormous growth as a leading tech hub over the past 10 years and have a strong history of innovation in science and technology,” Gallagher told UKTN.

“This development will continue to bring great tech talent to the region, as well as more tech businesses large and small – all contributing to the next phase of Greater Manchester’s growth as a leading tech ecosystem.”

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak created DSIT in February, splitting the tech and innovation focus areas from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

DSIT’s primary location is in Westminster, London.

Read more: Greater Manchester regional tech report