We caught up with him to find out why it’s happening, who it’s for, and what problems it will solve.
Last time we heard from you was around Newcastle Startup Week. How did that go?
Paul Lancaster: I’m delighted to say that our first Newcastle Startup Week festival in May was a big success with over 600 delegates attending across the five days. Our target was 500, so I was very happy to exceed this and we were at full capacity at each of the daytime events (400 people at The Boiler Shop on Day one, and 150-200 people at each of the smaller venues we used on each subsequent day).
Feedback from delegates, speakers and sponsors has been fantastic and I was particularly happy with how we were able to engage the whole business community with attendees including pre-starts, new startups, established businesses, students, investors, business advisors, Government organisations and enterprise level partners too.
From a personal point of view, it was an amazing feeling to see something work so well that I’d put my heart and soul into for the previous nine months. Roll on 2018!
What’s the story behind the Newcastle Scaleup Summit?
Since Sherry Coutu CBE published her ‘Scale-up Report on UK Economic Growth’ in 2014, there’s been a shift in focus at national and local government level from ‘startups’ to ‘scaleups,’ because the data suggests that the UK is actually very good at helping people start businesses but not very good at helping them grow (unlike the US). There are many reasons for this which the report lays out but the general consensus is that even just a small increase in the number of ‘scaleups’ will have a hugely positive impact on the UK economy in terms of jobs and wealth.
The North East Local Enterprise Partnership (North East LEP) has been particularly proactive in embracing the ‘scaleup agenda’ with a range of excellent initiatives designed to help them achieve their aims of creating 100,000 ‘more and better jobs’ across the North East region by 2024. This includes sponsoring both our Newcastle Startup Week festival in May (we can’t have more scale-ups without more strong and successful startups) and our Newcastle Scaleup Summit in November.
The theme on Day Four of Newcastle Startup Week in May was ‘Growing & Scaling’ (sales, marketing, PR, recruitment, personal development, and mindset) and many of the delegates who attended that were businesses that had already been around for a few years but were just ‘stuck.’ They’d reached a plateau and didn’t know what to do to take things to the next level.
When we saw this, and from the feedback we received, we knew there was demand to do a follow up event which would help them understand what they need to do to take things to the next level.
What can people expect if they attend?
The official OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) definition of a ‘scaleup’ is a company with 10 employees or more which has grown by 20 percent or more for three years in a row. However, data suggests only 2-to-5 percent of UK businesses have 10 employees or more with the rest being classed as ‘micro businesses’ of 0-9 employees.
It’s therefore important that we respect the fact not every business will want to become a scaleup, but if they do, how can they increase their chances of doing this? And even if they don’t want to grow that big, how do they take things to the next level from wherever they are?
To help do this, attendees of Newcastle Scaleup Summit will learn how to grow their business by:
Adopting a ‘Growth Mindset’ at work which will help you think even bigger
Improving your sales, marketing & PR of existing products or services
Innovating, developing & launching new products or services
Improving processes to save time and money to invest back in your business
Finding people with the right skills and experience to grow a business like yours
Understanding how to forge & maintain partnerships with bigger businesses
Using membership organisations to raise your profile and do all the above
Our speakers will be sharing personal & practical insights on how they grew their business including Darren Jobling (CEO, ZeroLight) who are one of the most exciting VR companies in Europe right now.
Who will benefit most from attending the summit?
Anyone who is already in business but looking to take things to the next level and it would be great to see more businesses from outside Newcastle attending the event.
From what I know of Tech North’s work, I think it would be particularly beneficial for your Northern Stars award winners and Founders’ Network members to attend.
How would you summarise the Newcastle tech scene in 2017?
When the Tech Nation 2017 report came out, Newcastle was described by some commentators as having ‘the perfect ecosystem’ for tech/digital businesses which is the result of 10-15 years’ worth of effort.
It definitely feels like we have very strong foundations and all the ingredients needed to have a vibrant tech/digital sector in Newcastle. I personally believe the relatively small size and close knit business community combined with a low cost of living and high quality of life means it’s very appealing to highly skilled employees and entrepreneurs who wish to start or expand their business there.
I’ve also been meeting a lot of ‘boomerangs’ lately – people who are moving back to Newcastle after forging a successful career in London or elsewhere but are at a stage on life where they want to ‘come home’ for a better quality of life, especially when they start a family.
With a reputation for being a great place to innovate and invent things going back hundreds of years, there’s a reason why Newcastle is known as a great ‘Test Bed City.’
Anything you can share about Newcastle Startup Week 2018?
Yes, we’ve already announced that we’ll be doing another five-day, citywide and multi-venue ‘Newcastle Startup Week’ in 2018 which will follow the same format as this year as it worked so well in May.
We’ve provisionally booked all the venues for the same time (14-18 May) but are currently considering whether to push this back to the following week to accommodate some of our speakers and partners. It’ll definitely happen in one of these weeks and we’ll probably announce the exact dates sometime in September. Although we want to be careful not to grow ‘too quickly’ we will be aiming to attract at least 1,000 people in 2018.
To keep an eye on developments, we’d encourage anyone interested in the event to follow us on Twitter and Like us on Facebook.
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