No more being humble: North East tech is standing up to get noticed

30 Sep, 2016

Regular Tech North readers will be no strangers to the vibrant tech sector in the North East of England. It doesn’t always get the recognition it deserves on the national and international stage, though. Creative digital development agency Generator wants to change that with a new approach to media engagement.

Last night saw the launch of a drive to encourage successful tech companies in the region to share their stories. One problem across the North of England is a tendency for firms keeping news of their big wins to themselves. This inhibits the growth of the sector; success can only breed success if other people know about it.

The idea here is that the tech sector will rally behind the #ThisIsMINE (Made In the North East) campaign. Devised by former Tech North team member Paul Lancaster, this branding has been adopted by Generator’s Digital Union membership organisation. It will showcase the best of the region’s output by highlighting companies doing great things there.

Fiercely independent

At the launch event, held at the gorgeous Wylam Brewery venue in Newcastle’s Exhibition Park, Generator CEO Jim Mawdsley hailed the North East’s “fiercely independent” character:

“As a sector, we are in charge of our own destiny and possess much more creative flair than other regions. It is time for the North East creative digital community to come of age. We need to shine the spotlight on all of the amazing work that is being produced here. We need the national media to know what we’re doing and that the North East is not only a hotbed for creative digital talent but also an amazing collaborative and dynamic cluster.”

Generator CEO, Jim Mawdsley

A rising tide…

There was then a panel debate that I took part in along with BQ’s Suzy Jackson, BDaily’s Jamie Hardesty, the Financial Times’ Chris Tighe and The Journal’s Graeme Whitfield. Chair Kari Owers of OPR quizzed us on how tech companies can best tell their stories. This is a topic I’ve discussed on panels many times in the past, but there was a twist this time. A couple of audience members questioned why they should devote time to raising their profile at all. Their argument was that courting the press won’t necessarily directly drive new business if their target customers are in other countries.

My answer to that is twofold. If you’re successful, you should spread the word so potential partners and customers can use it as validation that they’re making the right choice in dealing with you. And on a broader level, if you shouting about the success of your region you can encourage others to start their own businesses there rather than moving away.

One entrepreneur I spoke to at the event had previously lived in Brussels and London. She had now moved to Newcastle and intended to build her online business from the city. How many others might follow if North East tech companies shout about their wins a bit louder?

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