At Tech Nation we’re creating a national network connecting ambitious digital tech entrepreneurs across the UK.
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 Leeds.
Tell us a bit about yourself
I’m a writer, tech enthusiast, coworking space founder and working parent with a high energy four-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 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; the setting up of a tech mentoring scheme with RSM and North Invest has helped to develop the ecosystem. There have been a number of key funding rounds for businesses such as Panintelligence, Vet AI, and Kodypay, and eyes are turning to Leeds as a key hub to do business in, with Iwoca choosing the city for its northern office. In Sheffield, the new Twinkl Hive for edtech startups is proving to be an attraction for companies from across the UK.
Have you met any exciting companies?
There are so many exciting tech companies in Yorkshire. A few of my favourites include Panintelleigence, Hark, Slanted Theory, and Vet AI. The best thing about the region isn’t just the wonderful range of business that we have here that are innovating, but also the sense of community and collaboration where they work together to grow their revenues and to make the region the best place to work and live.
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.