Since I joined to lead Tech North at the end of April, we’ve been in a stage of agile development, and like every startup we’ve been focused on product market fit. Following some weeks of listening and planning I wanted to share some detail about Tech North’s strategy and our intent.
Tech North was established to accelerate growth of the digital economy in the North of England.
Our approach is:
INFORM, EXPLAIN, PERSUADE
Recent research from The Entrepreneurs Network and law firm Bircham Dyson Bell showed that around half of MPs haven’t heard of many of the policies that have been introduced to support entrepreneurs. Of the 100 MPs polled, 55% didn’t know about Catapult Centres and 58% admitted they weren’t aware of the Angel Co Fund. Access to finance is often cited as one of the most pressing issues for a growing business, yet half of MPs have never heard of the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS), introduced back in 2012, to encourage investors to back early stage and risky companies by offering tax breaks.
This research is a reminder of the fact that there has been significant government focus on creating the right set of conditions for entrepreneurs to thrive in the UK, as well as the role that Tech City UK has played for the last 5 years in helping to shape and advocate for policies and governmental support for entrepreneurship. There is broad consensus that current policies are the most entrepreneur friendly we’ve seen for many years.
But there’s always more to do.
As part of Tech City UK, Tech North provides entrepreneurs in the North of England with a voice to government.
Today we’re hosting a breakfast at No 10 Downing Street that will be attended by entrepreneurs from the region to ensure their views and concerns are heard by policy makers; and incorporated into policy thinking.
Issues being discussed include employee incentive schemes, tax relief on employing new computer science graduates and conversion courses for computer science graduates to increase employability.
The ecosystem in the North is developing fast, and further focus can help accelerate it further. We want to catalyse the community to do more in the following areas:
- Attract resources to the Tech North ecosystem – investment, talent, partnerships – through specific initiatives (more on this to come soon!)
- Identify opportunities, where there are gaps, to seed or support projects that will have impact, make a measurable difference and have sustainable business cases.
Tech North provides strategic guidance and a feedback loop – tailored for the region – to support the development of policies and initiatives that encourage digital entrepreneurship. This will include:
- Finance for tech start ups
- Digital infrastructure
- Skills, talent and education
We’re establishing relationships that can enhance the digital ecosystem by introducing new knowledge and expertise or that support access to talent and finance. The North has a fantastic tech proposition and we know it can only grow further through increased national and international connections.
CELEBRATE & INSPIRE
Most importantly Tech North is an opportunity to shine a light on our entrepreneurial successes and talent. To celebrate the North’s incredible achievements; the talent of our digital and tech community; to be proud of who we are; to shout about it; and to inspire a new generation of technologists and innovators as well as make our voice heard around the world.
In September we’ll be hosting an event for Tech North that will include announcements about some of our new initiatives. To give a flavour, a few of the current initiatives in the pipeline include:
- Building collateral and data that presents the North’s compelling proposition and sector specialisms, in areas such as health tech and fintech, which will further drive the case for inward and foreign direct investment in the North, to be used by key partners such as UKTI
- Identification of deal flow and shining a spotlight on our brightest entrepreneurial talent, creating the infrastructure to attract even more private investment
- Building and connecting valuable relationship networks to support digital entrepreneurs in accessing investment, talent, mentoring and specialist professional services
- Highlighting, promoting and supporting existing initiatives that are producing results, and seeding new ones that develop the region’s pool of digital talent and skills
- Research that identifies assets, opportunities and strategies for open innovation to grow productivity in the North of England
Our team, all based in the North, have built the plan based on what we’ve heard so far from the entrepreneurial community and what they need – but we always want to be iterating and optimising – so get in touch and let us know what you think!