Pi and Mash

Following the series of successful Fintech North events in Leeds, Manchester, and Liverpool, part organized by P2P lender rebuildingsociety.com, we posed a couple of questions to our contributor network, asking what the greatest opportunities for the tech and fintech ecosystems are in the North. And to keep the scale straight, what the most significant limitations are. Here’s what Toby Jordan from MadeByPi had to say on the matter. Bird Lovegod provides the banter.

 Toby, what are the Norths greatest opportunities, in your opinion?

The North has the greatest opportunity for growth which is supported by the success of the organisations that have already relocated and are benefiting from lower overheads and running costs. The communications network, principally the M62 corridor, with lower land costs and access to skilled talent has driven major growth in distribution and ecommerce businesses. While access to cheaper property, education and entertainment facilities provides a better work-life balance that is encouraging migration out of the overcrowded and expensive capital.

Bird says…It’s a fair point, organisations often do find a lower running cost when locating to the North, indeed, some councils will offer significant incentives if location or relocation is going to bring jobs. With regards to distribution and ecommerce, think Amazon, for sure, location is all about motorway access and the availability of large sites. Until Amazon start dropping orders from skybased warehouses, (they plan this, or at least have patents relating to it.) Work life balance is undoubtably better in the North, cannibalism is up 23% in London this year alone. That’s a joke by the way. Northerners also have a more developed sense of humour. People in the South are too busy ignoring each other on the tube to find their own situation amusing.

And go on Toby, we’re all friends here, what’s the Norths most significant limitations?

Overcoming the infrastructure challenges has been deferred so many times that they are now so large as to require both a major investment and a step-change to upgrade and innovate new solutions. Still the biggest challenge remains the perception of the North which, while improving, is still a great barrier to investment and in attracting and retaining talent.

Bird words…Yep, London gets six times the transport spend of Northern regions. And the HS2 vanity project, which will go over budget by tens of billions, is designed to funnel even more workers into the Capital. Agreed, transport up here is pretty lame at times, Londoners become incandescent if they have to wait more than 3 minutes on the Northern Line. We’re happy if a train arrives at all. With regards to perception, hmmm it’s true, and perhaps the solution is for the North to stop comparing itself to the South. And when we say South, we of course mean Devon and Cornwall. Having lived in London for ten years, I can honestly say policy makers in London, in fact everyone in London, gives exactly zero thought to the North of England. None. Ever. We should probably return the sentiment. Ayup.

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