Nick Clegg
Nick Clegg announces a technology hub project for the north of England called TechNorth Reuters

The UK deputy prime minister wants to take on Berlin and New York and double the number of technology jobs in the north of England to 400,000 in the coming years.

Nick Clegg made the remark while announcing the creation of a major new project called TechNorth.

The scheme will bring technology industries across the north of England together to form an "internationally renowned virtual hub".

TechNorth will be part of Tech City UK, which was set up to co-ordinate the existing digital technology expertise of Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield, Liverpool and the North East tech cluster (Newcastle, Sunderland and the Tees Valley).

"We've listened to local business leaders and there is a clear need for us to seize an opportunity to capitalise on existing technology talent by creating a northern tech hub to rival Berlin, New York, or Shanghai," Clegg said.

"My ambition, over time, is to double the number of tech jobs in the North, creating a stronger economy.

"To put this in context, it is estimated there are about 200,000 ICT jobs in the region currently."

But when IBTimes UK asked the deputy prime minister's Office what timescale Clegg would put on creating the 200,000 additional jobs, a spokesperson said there was not a "complete timeframe" in place and that the Liberal Democrat leader was referring to the "coming years".

TechNorth, which will work through UK Trade and Investment (UKTI), is designed to help attract inward investors in the technology industry to the North and support existing tech businesses to grow by pooling ideas and resources across local boundaries.

The government estimated that collectively, Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield, Liverpool and the North East technology cluster have more than 20,000 businesses in the technology, media and telecoms industries.

"There's a growing body of evidence which suggests that, to compete with San Francisco, Shanghai, Bangalore, Berlin and London, a cluster needs to reach a point of critical mass," Clegg added.

"This could be reached by attracting large inward investors which would have a magnetising effect to attract spin off businesses and support supply chains."

"We welcome any initiative which supports a unified and shared voice for the sector, attracting further investment in the region."

Brendan Flattery, the chief executive of Sage UK and Ireland, said: "This announcement will be widely welcomed by North East businesses – a recent Sage survey found 52% of small businesses owners believe too much investment is focussed on London and the South East.

"It is positive to see steps being taken to support our already world-class technology sector."