Entrepreneurs, universities and business bodies said a new service of direct Virgin Atlantic flights from Manchester to San Francisco will deliver a major boost to the industry across the North, giving them access to funding and expertise from the home of tech giants like Facebook, Uber, Eventbrite and Apple.
Trade Minister Greg Hands hailed the three-times weekly route as “a boost for the Northern Powerhouse’s ambitious tech and digital companies as they take advantage of new markets and trading opportunities”.
A 30-strong delegation of leading figures from the tech sector across the North will board the new flight from Manchester, on March 28, as part of the mission.
It has been coordinated by MC2, a Northern Powerhouse partner with offices in Manchester and San Francisco, in partnership with Manchester Airport and Virgin Atlantic, and supported by the Department for International Trade and the Institute of Directors.
The party will include Dr Adam Beaumont, from Leeds-based AQL, who said: “I’m wearing two hats while out there – as a tech CEO looking for partnerships with new start-ups, but also on behalf of Northinvest, representing the business angels of the North of the UK.
“The goal is to find new VC funds and other investors we can co-invest with in UK opportunities.”
Richard Gregory, the director of Tech North, said: “Creating better links between the established tech scene of the West Coast, with the burgeoning ecosystem in the North of England, is a triple win, providing market access, additional funding options, and access to more tech talent.”
Currently, more than 34,000 people from Yorkshire fly to San Francisco every year but have to travel indirectly via London or other overseas hubs, according to research from Manchester Airport.