What are the opportunities and challenges for digital tech founders in Middlesborough?

Kane Fulton, May 1, 2019 3 min read

What does Middlesborough have to offer ambitious digital tech entrepreneurs? We asked the following stakeholders and business leaders to find out. For granular data on Middlesborough’s digital tech ecosystem – including companies (and founders), accelerators, and workspaces – see Data Commons.

Dan Watson, Digital Middlesbrough Manager, Middlesbrough Council, says:

There’s a big focus on digital transformation in wider priority sectors, and given our industrial heritage this is unlocking a number of key opportunities for businesses in both digital and non-digital sectors, but it’s vital that we continue to provide support and break down barriers for our growing core digital tech industries. We have a very strong digital services sector, and we’re seeing more and more product spinouts coming out of these companies, many of which are in the area of ecommerce tech.

One of the key barriers to growth has been business accommodation that is fit for purpose for digital tech businesses, allowing for both the growth of indigenous digital tech companies and the ability to capitalise on further inward investment opportunities. We’ve been working very closely with local property developers to rectify this, and our plans for Boho Next Generation will future-proof this for the sector.

Ian Cornwell, CEO, Kraken IM, says:

We make software that makes sure engineering and construction projects get the right information at the right time, that they need to operate their facilities, assets and buildings

The last 12 months have been a real breakthrough for us, there’s two things that we’re super proud of that stand out. The first is that we built the world’s first distributed ledger engineering information management platform, as well as being a mouthful, we’re hoping it ensures a transparent distribution of information across buildings and assets. Basically, it lets our users create a golden thread of digital information. The second has been on the client front, we’re now seeing a real interest in what we do and that has resulted in some pretty big wins, we’re now selling and exporting into world top 10 world companies.

Why Middlesborough? Well, the fact we’re all Teessiders is probably a factor, not going to lie. That said, there’s a small but vibrant tech scene in Boro, plus, for what we do specifically there’s a cluster of world leaders right here in Teesside. Whilst it’s not Manchester or Newcastle there’s a will locally to build our tech scene and the support is fantastic, from the awesome Teesside Uni Launchpad team, the Council, all the way up to the Mayor and combined authority. It’s great that there’s a desire to build an ecosystem.

James Lees, Marketing Director, Mabo Media, says:

We help our clients improve and grow their business through PPC advertising. As an agency, we have many things to be proud of over the last 12 months. The growth of our clients’ businesses whilst working with Mabo, our 40+ strong team based in Middlesbrough, our 97.5% client retention rate. But for me, it was that Mabo were named as the Best Small PPC Agency at the 2018 European Search Awards. Our Middlesbrough based agency being named as the best at what we do on the continent will take some beating!

Middlesbrough is our home. Our business is born from Teesside and will always remain in Teesside. All five directors of Mabo are born and bred in Teesside and we are driven to build the Biggest and BEST PPC Management Agency in the UK from Middlesbrough. The University has a fantastic record of producing fantastic graduates on a year on year basis which helps our growth immensely. People from Middlesbrough are responsible, passionate, approachable, honest and approachable. These five key personality traits are what our company ethics are built upon, so why wouldn’t we want to be based in Middlesbrough?

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