In this weekly series we introduce you to members of the Tech North team and let them tell you more about their roles and their views about tech in the North of England.
This week we hear from our Northern Stars Programme Lead, Esme Caulfield.
Tell us about your role at Tech North
As Northern Stars Programme Lead, I’m all about leading, developing and delivering our Northern Stars competition for early stage tech startups. Northern Stars sets out to find the best 10 early stage tech start ups in the North. I lead on all aspects of the programme, from the application process, through to selecting our judging panel, organising our pitch events and Grand Final, and ensuring that we have a great prize package to offer our winners.
I’m also heavily involved in promoting Northern Stars, and welcome any opportunity to engage with people about the programme. That could be sourcing potential applicants, or finding speakers and judges for our events.
Northern Stars applications opened on 12 July. There’ll be pitch events held across the North in the autumn – Leeds on 14 September, Liverpool on 28 September and Newcastle on 5 October. So if you want to apply and pitch at one of these, I recommend you get your application in as soon as possible! We’ll select our 20 finalists through the pitch events and an online judging process, and will announce our winners at the Grand Final in Manchester on 16 November.
Northern Stars is an amazing programme that gives real tangible benefits to the winners. Over the past two years of the programme, our winners have collectively raised over £6 million in investment, and through the prize package, increased their business networks and contacts.
What’s your background, and what attracted you to working at Tech North?
My background is in higher education, working at the University of Salford, the University of Manchester, and the University of Leeds over the last 10 years. I’ve worked in a number of different areas all relating to professional and organisational development. This has included careers and enterprise advice and development to students and graduates, running a cross-European project focusing on developing employability, and reinventing student welcome and induction. The thread that has pulled all these things together is a love of developing people and supporting them in getting where they want to be.
I was attracted to working at Tech North for a multitude of reasons. Firstly, tech is probably the most exciting sector to be working in right now, particularly in the North. There’s a real opportunity to contribute to the development of the sector and make a positive difference. Secondly, the role of Northern Stars Programme Lead looked like a fantastic opportunity to get involved in the tech sector and be part of something that’s helping tech startups grow and succeed – who wouldn’t want to be a part of that? Finally, the vision and ethos of Tech North – to support and develop Northern tech was something I really wanted to be part of.
What’s the most rewarding part of your job?
Without a doubt it’s seeing the winning Northern Stars companies grow and succeed. We recently filmed our 2016 winners talking about how Northern Stars has benefitted them.
If there’s one thing you’d like people to do after reading this interview, what would it be?
If you’re an early-stage tech startup based in the North, then you should consider entering Northern Stars 2017. Our Northern Stars Pitch battles in Leeds, Liverpool and Newcastle are also open for booking so is this has piqued your interest, book your place and come and watch some exciting pitches!
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