5 min read
Meet Jem Henderson: our Yorkshire 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 Jem Henderson, our Yorkshire Entrepreneur Engagement Manager based in Harrogate.
Tell us a bit about yourself
I’m a writer, coworking space founder, tech enthusiast and working parent with a high energy three-year-old! I’m really interested in how technology is transforming the world around us – from the way we work to the way we spend our free time, and how those changes are impacting everything from parenting to community spirit. I worked for Digital Catapult’s IoTUK programme for two years, going from community manager to project lead on a cool machine learning initiative which really cemented my love for all things tech.
What wins have you had since starting? What impact have they made?
There have been a few exciting wins for me and for the region; from two of our semi-finalists making it through to the grand final of our Rising Stars competition through to connecting people across Yorkshire and further afield by utilising all the people I have met over the years. It’s been a great couple of months and with all the new spaces opening in Leeds in the next few months – Nexus and Barclays Eagle Labs to name two – I’m expecting a lot more!
Have you met any exciting companies?
I am a particularly big fan of the Sheffield ecosystem. I recently met Chris Dymond from Sheffield Digital. He gave me a guided mini tour of the city, taking in everything from art galleries, coworking spaces and former anarchist communes. Likewise, when I met Sam Chapman from The Floow, we talked about everything from ethics in AI and insurance through to subverting the Cutlers to bring Sheffield manufacturing into the 21st century. Both men obviously love their city and it was really fabulous to meet them and hopefully help spread that love far and wide.
What challenges are founders facing in your region?
Being up North, it can be difficult for founders who can feel like they’re competing with London startups who have it much easier when it comes to access to space, to funding, and to mentors. Funding is a challenge particularly. However, the benefits are being up north are that less funding is needed. When it’s only £12.50 a square foot for office space and wages don’t need to be eyewatering to afford to live, it can be easier. I’m hoping I can make a difference to help founders know that there’s a healthy vibrant ecosystem of tech businesses in Yorkshire and everyone is keen to lend a hand, advice, and moral support. Just need to work on the ‘and a few quid’ bit.