The future of Tech North: Everything we announced at our Summit & Social events

26 Jul, 2016

Last week, Tech North held a series of events across the North to discuss our plans for the future. In case you missed them, here’s a summary of everything we discussed.

Since I was offered the role of Director of Tech North on the 15th of June, a lot has changed in the world. The EU referendum result has brought Brexit onto the horizon, there’s been a change of Prime Minister and cabinet, not to mention Chris Evans quitting Top Gear – there’s been a lot to adjust to.

I’ve not been deterred though, because there’s more need than ever for Tech North. Businesses naturally have concerns over trade with Europe and bringing the best talent from the continent to work in the UK. However, entrepreneurs tend to thrive in a changing and challenging environment. For example, there’s an opportunity for exporters to thrive right now, and it’s an encouraging sign that key investors still have an appetite for UK companies.

Richard Gregory introduces the Tech North Summit and Social in Manchester
Richard Gregory introduces the Tech North Summit and Social in Manchester

The UK digital economy is growing 32 percent faster than the wider economy and is creating jobs 2.8 times faster. I joined Tech North because there’s a huge opportunity in bringing the North of England together as a joined-up offering that’s stronger together.

Here’s what we’re working on to make an impact on the Northern tech sector. Watch the video and then read on for more detail.

Trade and investment

Tech North’s trade and investment activity, led by Jennifer Hartley, is all about raising the profile of the North of England as a preferred business location for tech companies from elsewhere in the UK and overseas. We also promote export opportunities for the tech products and services created here.

We work with UKTI and seven key Tech North cities (Hull, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Sheffield and Sunderland) to tell a single narrative. It’s about promoting ourselves as a collective rather than as rival cities. We’re not competing against London but on a global stage against hubs like Berlin, Tel Aviv and San Francisco.

This work has seen us create marketing tools such as ‘curator platform’ apps which are currently available for iOS on the App Store. These apps cover opportunities in three key sectors. Take a look at our apps on Health tech (in partnership with NHSA), Education tech (in partnership with Ed Tech UK), and Digital media and entertainment.

Trade missions are an important part of the mix. We’re organising targeted overseas missions to events like SXSW in Austin, Dreamforce in San Francisco and Kidscreen in Miami. These help to raise the North’s profile globally to attract foreign direct investment and boost trade.

The Tech Nation Visa scheme is key in attracting talent to the North of England. Supported by Ward Hadaway, we’ll be organising a number of events to promote the scheme and provide advice. In fact, we have the perfect ambassador for the scheme within Tech North. Our Research Manager Douglas Jones is a US citizen who holds a Tech Nation Visa. He is able to give advice to individuals and companies interested in applying.

Northern Stars

Northern Stars

Our Northern Stars competition is back for 2016. Just like last year, we want to raise profile of the best tech startups in the North and provide them with high value connections. A great example of the impact it can have is Peak. They raised £1 million thanks in part to an investor they met on the first programme.

We’re looking to raise the bar this year in terms of scale, the number of companies applying and attendees. Companies involved in all areas of tech can apply, whether that’s virtual reality, medtech, artificial intelligence, drones or anything else.

You can apply online now for the chance to pitch at one of our three regional events. Even if you don’t make it onto the bill there, you might get picked for the grand final.

The 10 winners after the grand final will receive this year’s prize package. This includes trips to TechCrunch Disrupt London, a Bloomberg investor pitch event, the GP Bullhound Northern Tech Awards, The Next Web Conference Europe in Amsterdam, plus the option to be involved in our trade missions, such as to SXSW in Texas.

So, apply now for your chance at northern stardom!

Founders’ Network


Founders’ Network is a six-month bespoke programme of tailored learning from world-class delivery partners, delivered across three regions in the North. In addition to hearing from experts, founders will be able to provide support to each other. This is a valuable chance to compare your experiences in a safe environment that isn’t about pitches or selling.

Think of it as the flip side of the coin to Northern Stars – helping to develop you business from the inside rather than promote it to the world. It offers free, accelerator-style education, without the intensive time commitment – you just need to attend one afternoon a month. It’s chance for startup founders to work on their business rather than in their business

Founders’ Network offers advanced masterclasses on business administration and lean startup principle; customer development; building your team; legals; investment; traction and growth, and leadership. The masterclasses are jam-packed with relevant information and practical tips that will help you move your business forward in tangible ways.

So, become part of a cohort of fellow founders in your local region and apply for Founders’ Network today. Our first masterclasses kick off this week. We’ll be running ‘Customer Development’ in the North East, ‘Legals’ in Yorkshire & Humber, and ‘Building Your Team’ in the North West.

The co-investment fund

Accessing finance is a key issue facing Northern tech companies. Investment is hard to access and it’s even difficult just to work out where to go to find out about it. Investors don’t often operate right across the North. There are no tier-one VCs, and there are fewer SEIS and EIS funds and angel syndicates than are found in London.

The co-investment fund that Tech North is planning would co-ordinate investors, leading to the creation of more SEIS/EIS funds. It would put more capital into the ecosystem and act as a ‘hub’ for tech investment activity.

Co-investment funds have been successful elsewhere, from Tel Aviv to London. This fund would address the North’s issues around access to finance and have a tangible impact on the technology sector. The fund would be between £20 million and £30 million and invest in rounds of between £150,000 and either £1.5 million or £2 million, depending on the fund’s eventual size. Around 50 percent of the funding would be set aside for ‘follow-on’ investment in portfolio companies.

The co-investment fund is still being formulated. For more information, please contact Tech North’s Head of Investment Strategy, James Bedford: james [at]

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  1. I need to talk to techcity about what you do, but can’t find an email address for key people or a switchboard number- please help?

    I need to contact Doug Jones in the North East as I have organised a seminar on this issue next week and he may wish to know about it

    Prof Tony Chapman, St Chad’s College, Durham University