Leeds is in the North, isn’t it? It certainly seems a long way south from where I started. You could argue all day long where the south ends and the north begins but for me, without being xenophobic it is something to do with the way that people interact rather than geography. If you look at the map then Manchester looks to be in the middle. It is a three hour drive from Morpeth but I am prepared to concede that anything from Manchester to Hull and above is northern.
The northern way, the northern powerhouse and the northern lights all happen above that line.
I was down in Leeds today for a Tech North briefing. It was at the Carriage Works Theatre in Millennium Square. It was handy for the station and so I got an earlyish train from Newcastle and was back in Durham just after lunch.
The briefing was designed to celebrate and inspire the growth of digital businesses across the North, the Tech North. There was quite a crowd, more than expected. The North East was well represented (Teesside to Tweed and east of the Pennines in case you ask) and got a few sound checks, especially for Sunderland and Newcastle. Justin even cheered when Newcastle University got a mention. I tend to see the same faces wherever I go but I made some new acquaintances, people I will meet up with again in Newcastle. It’s funny how it sometimes takes a trip to a foreign clime to make the contacts with people back home.
So when you think about Tech North, think Dynamo but a bit more south and a lot more west. At least that’s the impression that I have been left with.
There were a few speakers and a couple of panel interviews. Claire Braithwaite, Head of Tech North gave a very impassioned speech about the role of technology in the North’s agenda. She talked about how technology is really all to do with people and how the economy is moving from a financial capital model to people capital model. Or rather that was my interpretation. She talked about the richness of our networks, our collaboration and how this will be what sets the region apart from its competitors. Our people are our unique selling proposition.
She went on to announce Northern Stars, a competition to find the ten brightest entrepreneurs and start-ups in the North. That is something to look out for.
It was a good event.
As always though, I gathered some useful factoids that I managed to tweet. I always like these things as they are useful to pepper presentations and conversations. They make our story more interesting. Here are a few: Sage took on fifty seven apprentices this week. Wow! Fifty per cent of all advertising spend in the United Kingdom is now using digital media. The digital sector accounts for ten per cent of the UK’s economy, which in itself is the fifth largest in the world and the sector will outstrip all other industry sectors in size by 2020.
Please feel free to use any of these in upcoming engagements.
I’m off to the Dynamo board tonight.