04 Jul 2024

Kao Data kickstarts its Stockport ambitions by focusing on AI's positive future role

Marking its successful planning application for a £350m cutting-edge data centre development in Stockport - Kao Data, the specialist developer and operator of data centres engineered for AI and advanced computing, welcomed tech and AI visionaries to a special stakeholder event last week.

Over 150 guests from Stockport’s business community were hosted at CDL Codeworks, one of the town’s brightest technology pioneers and got a glimpse of a bright, data-driven future for all.

Senior figures of the Kao Data team including Doug Loewe, CEO, and David Bloom, Chairman, were warmly welcomed by Stockport’s business community alongside some of Greater Manchester’s most innovative AI and advanced computing pioneers. 

The event reinforced that Kao Data will be playing a pivotal role in Stockport and Greater Manchester’s tech revolution.

By 2026, the data centre - the largest in the North of England - will provide upwards of 40MW of new compute power to move the dial further on the region’s AI, technology, digital and economic ambitions, providing a platform for the region’s AI  ‘rock stars’ - many of whom contributed to the event.

Introducing Kao Data to what he called a ‘slam dunk’ environment for accelerating AI, scientific research, cloud and enterprise innovation, Doug Loewe, CEO, acknowledged the region’s legacy and track record on tech, as well as the significant opportunity it provides to level-up the UK’s technology horizon.

The traditional London data centre market is becoming saturated and there needs to be new places to put these burgeoning AI workloads. The time for Manchester to become the UK’s next computing hub is now, providing a home for enormous amounts of AI infrastructure from across Europe and the United States.

I can now look people here in Stockport in the eye and say, America is coming. This is the UK’s next major data centre cluster. It’s a great location with people who genuinely want to take this entire community to the next level.

Elizabeth Scott, MBE, Executive Director at Turing Innovation Catalyst (TIC) Manchester agreed: “At TIC we are really focused on the tech ecosystem in Greater Manchester. That means we need to understand what is going on, what’s missing and be at the forefront of advocating for what Greater Manchester needs.

“Having this incredible new data centre asset not only evokes confidence in the ecosystem we have created here, but now it allows for a different type of innovation that we could not do before.

The investment will help make the Mayor of Greater Manchester’s digital vision for a sustainably powered tech hub in Britain a reality.

Kao Data’s commitment supports all aspects of this vision but especially key priorities around creating connected, inclusive and sustainable places, supporting innovation and strengthening Greater Manchester’s position as a global digital influencer.

David Bloom, Chairman, said: “It’s all about the people. There is a great buzz in this room tonight and across the region. It’s a hotbed for innovation and we want to be a part of it - providing the critical infrastructure to support something fresh and new, and a pathway to the stars for exciting local tech and research entrepreneurs."

Marie Hamilton, Greater Manchester regional lead for Microsoft, who spoke on the closing panel, said that it was a really exciting time to be in the city and Stockport. Microsoft has a national ambition to support 1.5m people to build careers in the  technology sector and have made a significant commitment to developing skills in Greater Manchester through their partnerships with local universities and businesses in the region.

She said: “When we look at things like digital inclusion, social mobility and talent pipeline, all three are interconnected. So if we are going to continue to grow our economy from a digital perspective - which is what we all want to do - we need to make sure we are drawing all people into that economy.

Commenting on the importance of collaboration and what marked the region out, Phil Swan, Director for Digital at GMCA said: “Kao Data’s superb launch event in Stockport was such an inspirational and insightful evening. Their investment in the city region will genuinely be transformative, especially given their stated intent to connect with and energise the ecosystem not only in Stockport but also across Greater Manchester.  From some of the work we’ve already done with them, it’s clear they’re on the same wavelength as Greater Manchester”.

Marketing Stockport’s Helen White said that the arrival of Kao Data was entirely deserved by a town getting lots right. She said: “With a £1 billion transformation plan we are improving our product, we are a great place to live, we have an ambitious business community, strong council leadership and a fast-growing tech industry collaborating with the wider city region. Kao Data joins us at the perfect time. We are fashioning our future together.

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