Manchester, Glasgow, Leeds & Liverpool ... and not london, will be the top tech start-up hotspots of the future, as they rank highest for most affordable housing and thriving digital tech economies, claims a new report.

Manchester, Glasgow, Leeds and Liverpool, will be the digital tech start-up hotspots of the future, as they ranked highest of any UK city for a combination of most affordable property, number of digital tech jobs and the growth potential of their digital tech economies, according to research by online estate agents

HouseSimple took the 30 regional digital tech hubs, including London, identified in the latest Tech Nation 2017 report, described as ‘the most comprehensive analysis of the UK digital tech ecosystem’, and then ranked each city by average house price, number of digital jobs and digital tech sector growth potential.

Manchester came out on top in the rankings. With average house prices in the city at £161,611 - one of the lowest of any of the 30 tech hubs identified in the Tech Nation report - more than 60,000 digital jobs and tech sector growth potential of 85 per cent, one of the highest. Manchester is well placed to prosper when Britain leaves the EU.

Glasgow was a close second, with average house prices just £119,487, and tech sector growth potential of 81 per cent. However, the city currently has a third of the digital jobs in Manchester. Leeds placed third, with slightly higher average property prices than Manchester (£171,052), but the second highest tech sector growth potential (92 per cent) of any of the regional tech hubs.

Although London has established itself as one of the world’s top tech capitals, average house prices (£481,345) are three times higher than in Manchester and four times higher than in Glasgow. As a result, London only ranks 19th, with the capital vulnerable to a mass exodus of digital talent to the thriving regional tech hubs, where business costs are cheaper and housing is considerably more affordable.

Last year, digital tech investment in the UK reached almost £7 billion, turnover of the UK digital tech industries was £170 billion and there are now more than 1.6 million digital tech jobs in the UK. The digital tech sector is booming and leading the way as Brexit is less than two years away.

The following table lists the top 20 regional tech hubs (including London) in the UK, ranked by a combination of highest number of digital jobs, highest digital tech sector growth potential and most affordable average house prices:

LocationNo. of Digital Jobs*Digital tech sector growth potential* in per centAverage house price**Total ranking points
Sources: * Tech City UK/ONS, ** House price data - Land Registry

Tech hub property prices

HouseSimple research revealed that the established tech hubs of Cambridge, Reading and Oxford - with more than 100,000 digital jobs between them - have seen some of the highest property price increases over the past five years of anywhere in the UK. Their booming tech economies have helped super-charge property prices; up more than 43 per cent in Oxford and Cambridge, and almost 54 per cent in Reading since 2012. That compares with a 31 per cent average price increase for the UK over the same period.

The research also found that two of the emerging digital tech hubs Ipswich and Exeter, have seen the largest average property price rises over the past 12 months, of any of the 30 regional tech hubs, up 8.9 per cent in Ipswich and 8.7 per cent in Exeter, almost double the UK average.

Alex Gosling, CEO, online estate agents, comments: “Britain was described by Chancellor Philip Hammond as an “innovation powerhouse” and the digital tech sector is predicted to lead the way when we leave the EU.

“The digital economy is expanding rapidly, creating new jobs and opportunities in cities across the UK. London has been the beacon for the digital tech sector in the UK, but the flame is starting to burn a little less brightly, as the high cost of living and unaffordable property prices has seen an exodus of tech workers and tech businesses.

“With tech start-ups able to tap into a growing pool of highly skilled workers outside the capital, the regional tech hubs are thriving. In fact, according to the latest Tech Nation report, more than two thirds (68 per cent) of total UK digital tech investment in 2016 was in regional clusters beyond London.

“Regional tech hubs are set to boom over the next few years, as the local digital economies become more established. And the regions best placed to take advantage of the investment being pumped into the digital tech sector will be the ones that can offer not just the best job opportunities but also the best quality of life.”

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