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No two days are the same for Tech Nation’s Entrepreneur Engagement Managers (or ‘EEMs’, as they prefer).
As their role would suggest, EEMs exist to engage with and support digital tech company founders in any way possible – whether that’s connecting them with investors and other useful people, writing about them in an article, or sending them a list of coworking spaces. They’re the kind of personal assistant you won’t find on any phone.
On these pages each month our EEMs share the latest developments in tech from their regions, shed light on their activities, and highlight interesting startups and scaleups they’ve met on the road.
Here’s what they got up to in June, and if you think you’d benefit from being connected with an EEM – get in touch!
Tech Nation’s Cyber cohort visited Belfast in June for the first time, which was great. I facilitated connections across the region to ensure they gained value and potential investment opportunities from the visit.
It’s been a busy month; as part of the cyber cohort visit I attended a panel discussion with DCMS (the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport) and networked at a founder-only dinner with local banks, investors and corporates. Finally, I visited Queen’s University Belfast, a world-recognised Centre for Secure Information Technologies (CSIT) to understand the region’s growing cyber cluster.
In terms of interesting companies, I met LoyalBe who are on a mission to replace paper-based loyalty cards and transition the process into a streamlined app with reward mechanisms for the consumer. GigGrafter, another I came across, has developed rota software that lets users create efficient schedules quickly.
In a new report released in June, Leeds-based startup The Data City identified that the UK’s digital technology industry is 25% larger than previously thought. By using a different way to analyse the work that is being done, they have found much more companies operating in the digital and tech space.
In the same month, I moderated a panel at our Tech Nation Talks Yorkshire event that was held at the AvenueHQ coworking space in Leeds. We had engaging chat about topics such as diversity in tech, scaling and inclusivity from our panelists from Sheffield, Bradford and Leeds.
I also interviewed Sherin Mathews who is ambitiously launching a new tech conference in Leeds, called AI Tech North, which features a great list of speakers and is aimed at both novices interested in AI and those already in the know. And, as part of our AI programme call-out, I spoke to a few fabulous companies including Logically who are using AI to fight fake news.
In June the School of Code showcase saw the awesome results of 16-weeks of code training. Meanwhile, MyCleverHub in Staffs have accepted the first two businesses onto its programme, and Birmingham Tech Week officially launched and is set for its pilot run in October this year.
So much happened in June that I had to send a video of myself delivering a message to attendees of an event that I couldn’t attend! Is cloning available yet? Saying that, I finally managed to go to Tech Nottingham – and it was brilliant! There was a very packed room full of energy and encouragement, and I’m looking forward to going back soon. I’m really pleased to see collaboration across Midlands cities improving. For example, Birmingham Tech Week is working with the Malvern Festival of Innovation as they fall on the same dates.
I’ve met some really interesting companies recently, including proptech scale-up Spicatech, Dragons’ Den startup DrivenMedia, decision analytics AI scale-up Fluence, and manufacturing-consultancy-turned-SaaS application, Sempai. Each time I meet with a founder I leave full of inspiration and admiration.
It’s busy events season at the moment in the South West, with frequent awards ceremonies. Launch Great West was a black tie do that showcased the best in science & tech. It contrasted with The Sparkies, a less formal but perhaps more “fun” event celebrating tech businesses.
In June I ran a roundtable for the Treasury on the same day that we held Tech Nation Talks South West. The event was a success, and I was asked to speak at more events and even be a BAME founders’ mentor as a result. I met important contacts at VentureFest in Exeter, and I may have secured a graduate a job on the back of an intro I made, which is nice.
It was also really cool to meet Nemo from Sigma Polaris who has now applied for our AI programme. They are using AI to tackle bias in recruitment and get the right people with the right skills into the right jobs. Finally, I attended Tech Expo, which was held at Paintworks and heard elevator pitches from the Bristol SETsquared cohorts.
It’s been a packed month for investment activity in Wales, with Capital City Region announcing £495m of opportunies in Cardiff. Meanwhile, Global Welsh has launched a new Diaspora Investment Portal to bring investment into Wales.
In non-investment activity, the National Cyber Security Centre has announced the next CyberUK event will be in Wales in 2020. Oh, and the University of South Wales (USW) is soon to launch Startup Stiwdio – a new incubator in Cardiff.
As for me, I was Invited to meet with the Secretary of State for Wales to discuss tech in the country. He’s agreed to attend our Tech Nation Talks Wales event, which takes place on July 17 at Tramshed in Cardiff.
I met some interesting companies in June including TenderTec, which uses AI to identify (and alert family members) when older and vunerable people have fallen in their homes. I also met Concentric Health, which has developed a digital consent platform that helps clinicians share healthcare decisions with patients.
There were a number of key developments in June, including software company Matillion closing a $35m round, Rising Stars winner tickr smashing a £1m crowdfunding target and Praetura Ventures closing its 2019 fund at £15m. It then proceeded to lead a £1m investment in Manchester-based digital health startup Dr Fertility.
I organised and delivered a successful Tech Nation Talks: North West event in Manchester to mark the launch of the organisation’s flagship Tech Nation Report 2019. We welcomed over 100 attendees and were lucky enough to have a stimulating and insightful panel discussion.
It’s always hard to talk about interesting companies I’ve met from month-to-month as there are too many to count, but a great one that stands out is RDvault, a fast-growing Manchester fintech behind an R&D tax credits software platform headed up by founder Shoayb Patel. Others include GoSimpleTax, Gendius, SPINR, Cubeitz and Personalyze.
London Tech Week in June represents one of the highlights of the UK tech calendar and the 2019 edition lived up to expectations! Events such as CogX showed the future possibilities for British Tech in technologies such as AI while there were also excellent sessions on topics such as diversity and the opportunities throughout the UK, including those in Leeds.
I’ve enjoyed speaking with founders both in the AI and Fintech sectors and encouraging them to apply for our respective growth programmes. Otherwise it was fun working with our insights and marketing teams to launch our report on UK tech Jobs & skills “A Bright Tech Future” during London Tech Week.
In June I discovered that Cambridge Norwich Tech Corridor have set up a Talent Workforce to come up with innovative solutions to challenges around talent acquisition and retention locally.
Meanwhile, Allia launched their Future 20 cohort (pictured, above) of positive impact companies, and a new Innovation Centre has been opened in Colchester at the University of Essex. There’s also been a few big raises this month – by Audio Analytic and Azuri Technologies.
It’s been brilliant to speak to local founders about Tech Nation’s AI and Fintech growth programmes, which have drawn a lot of interest and local applications. I also connected entrepreneurs to the Cabinet Office’s PR function for profiling during London Tech Week.
In terms of interesting companies, I met the founders of Liftshare and Pikl, which are focused on the so-called sharing economy in different ways. I also met Thyngs, an IoT business that transforms any product, packaging or advertising into an instant point of sale. In Cambridge it’s been great to reconnect with Cambridge Intelligence and meet Syndicate Room.
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