By Daniel Hunter

Up to 3,000 businesses in Manchester's thriving tech quarter is set to receive a huge connectivity boost as Virgin Media Business plans to introduce ultrafast broadband in the area.

The announcement comes ahead of a report released tomorrow by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) exploring digital demand amongs small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and the importance of high-speed internet access to their business. In addition, a study by McKinsey Global Institute estimates that SME productivity could be increased by 10% by doing more online.With a package specially designed to support the connectivity needs of businesses located in multi-tenanted buildings, 3,000 businesses co-located in 300 buildings within Manchester’s nine-postcode Northern Quarter will now have access to the fastest, cheapest and most reliable dedicated internet connections

Once the ultrafast fibre is installed directly into the premises, each of the small businesses gets their own dedicated internet connection with equal upload and download speeds. This should meet the basic connectivity needs of many businesses, but for those who require more there are individual leased line options available with speeds of up to 1gb. Businesses in the area can register their interest by visiting www.virginmediabusiness.co.uk/techcitymanchester.

Building on success of London’s Tech City

Similar packages were launched earlier this year in London’s Tech City, a technology cluster located in East London. More than 450 London businesses, located in 70 buildings, are now being connected to the ultrafast broadband.

Each small business in a building connected with fibre by Virgin Media Business is able to apply for a subsidy from the government’s SuperConnected Cities scheme.

In his spring Budget, Chancellor George Osborne announced that the government will allocate £4 million to establish a technology start-up hub in the Northern Quarter to help create “thriving local ecosystems” similar to those seen in London. This followed on from a report published by Tech Nation earlier this year which highlighted that Greater Manchester has seen a 70% growth in digital companies between 2010 and 2013 with one of the highest average company turnover growth rates in the UK.

Peter Kelly, Managing Director, Virgin Media Business, said: “A central part of any technology hub is reliable, secure high-speed internet. This can make the difference between thriving and merely surviving for small and medium sized businesses so I’m thrilled we’re able to bring Manchester’s vibrant business community our latest package with the fastest broadband speeds.”

Sir Richard Leese, Leader of Manchester City Council, said: “Virgin Media Business’ investment in Manchester is very welcome. Quick, reliable broadband is the backbone of our digital economy, transforming the way businesses operate and the services they can provide. This announcement represents a bespoke ultra-fast broadband package for small and medium enterprises and will help support some of Manchester’s most digitally minded and creative businesses.”

Mike Cherry, FSB Director of Policy said: "We welcome this new digital investment by Virgin Media Business to boost the broadband connection for several thousand businesses in Manchester. It's vital we encourage economic growth right across the UK, particularly in the Northern Powerhouse where there is so much potential waiting to be unlocked.

“This sort of investment is essential if we are to encourage greater job creation and growth outside London and the South East. Small businesses are the backbone of the economy - it's crucial they continue to get the investment and support they need from larger companies and the Government so they can deliver the jobs and prosperity we all want to see."