12 min read
Meet Jamie Hardesty: our North East Entrepreneur Engagement Manager
Whether you’re a founder looking for connections or support, a stakeholder embedded in a local community or are simply interested in what’s going on in a region, our Entrepreneur Engagement Managers (or ‘EEMs’ for short) are on the ground in towns and cities and ready to help.
In this series of articles we’re telling you more about our EEMs’ roles and views about tech in the country. Here we speak to Jamie Hardesty, our North East Entrepreneur Engagement Manager based in Newcastle.
Tell us a bit about yourself
I’m local to the North East, having been born and bred in Newcastle. My background lies in content creation and journalism and I’ve been heavily involved in championing the region’s digital tech sector for over five years now. I love to meet new people, test new tech and fly the North East’s flag whenever and wherever I can!
What wins have you had since starting? What impact have they made?
I’ve met a tremendous amount of founders and teams since taking up the post last year. As well as explaining how Tech Nation’s offering can support startups, each interaction and new relationship has proved to be unique. Some conversations have resulted in founders gaining quick, short terms wins in terms of solving a current problem while others have facilitated long-term value such as the introduction to new mentors or investors. I’ve particularly enjoyed mentoring founder teams at Newcastle University and on the Ignite Accelerator cohort too.
Have you met any exciting companies?
It’s been really encouraging to see some breakthrough early-stage companies gain traction of late. I’m a big fan of Equiwatt founder Johnson Fernandes who is working tirelessly in his quest to revolutionise the energy industry through AI and machine learning. It was great to see him as one of the Tech Nation Rising Stars finalists this month! Another one to watch is Wordnerds, an exciting Gateshead-based startup using AI with linguistics to automate text understanding.
What challenges are founders facing in your region?
At early-stage, founders are facing a real struggle in the region on multiple fronts. While it’s a positive to see European money again accessible in the region, particularly via Northstar’s £27m Innovation Fund, the North East lags far behind the rest of the UK when it comes to angel investment.
Since the closure of Campus North, Newcastle in particular seems to have lost its identity when it comes to tech. Currently there’s no real nucleus for the city’s tech scene to identify with, an exemplar which once prevailed. Aside from this, many founders attempting to scale in the region are struggling to recruit the right talent they need to succeed. The skills issue is an ever-present reality.