Following a frenetic pre-xmas period, including a few memorable – or only vaguely memorable in the best cases! – Xmas events with tech sector colleagues and clients, the first half of January was a fairly slow start. At the time of writing though, things are really ramping up again and both Chris and Morgan have recently picked up some promising new clients as well as welcomed the return of some familiar faces. Highlights of the period are:
- Tech Founder Networking Event (8th December – see pic) at Bullion Café was once again a great success with over 20 founders in attendance, in most cases meeting each other for the first time. We had a really nice mix of new-to-the-sector startups mingling with some successful ‘recent raisers’ such as Tom Bloomfield from Fyous, plus veteran guests like Mark Hughes, who’s EdTech business Tutorful has now raised multiple equity rounds running into 8 figures in total. Our Theory of Change here is that by creating the environment for spontaneous peer-to-peer relationships to form, we enable a greater cross-pollination of ideas, skills and contacts.. really helping to ‘glue’ the ecosystem together. Judging by some of the potential partnerships that were discussed on the day, it looks to be working! We hope to be arranging another one in the Springtime.
- It was great to have a tour of the incredible Olympic Legacy Park and we look forward to the new Coworking space at the site opening soon. It could well become a useful addition to the flexi-space offer in the city, particularly for tech companies doing R&D in Sports and Fitness/Recovery Tech, with the sporting facilities, AWRC itself and all the links to SHU’s expertise right on the doorstep.
- Once again we’ve done quite a bit of close working with NorthInvest on various agendas and are really grateful for the referral of Tubr in particular – we are trying to unlock a few ‘early adopter’ opportunities for this predictive AI which is ideal for smaller or incomplete data sets.. Indeed, Tubr is looking for Food and Drink businesses to come forward to trial their tech as a method for predicting footfall. Interested parties should email Morgan about this. We also attended North Invest’s Pitching Event in Leeds, to get the lowdown on the kind of quality of pitches that our clients should be aspiring to!
- We recently learned of some funding from South Yorkshire’s ‘Digitising Social Care’ program to scale up technologies that enable independent living and helped the program make some local connections here that might benefit from that funding. We put the project lead in touch with SIAN and hope she may make an appearance at the next session to explain these opportunities in more detail. There are both short and longer term forms of engaging with them on this topic.
- We had an excellent session with P4SY, going through their client list to see whether/how we can support them and indeed refer more ‘on topic’ business in. On the back of this we have referred 3 companies into P4SY and they are also now utilising our free support to complement the P4SY offer.
- We note that the Royal Academy of Engineering’s Regional Talent Engine is now open for a new Yorkshire & Humber cohort. This is a prestigious six-month pre-accelerator programme for early-stage founders to transform great ideas into new engineering (including software engineering) startups. They are looking for experienced engineers or tech workers who have trained or worked in skilled jobs in an engineering or technical area, and are seeking a career change as an entrepreneur. There is a £20k grant for the most promising startups. See here: https://enterprisehub.raeng.org.uk/regional-talent-engines or of course on the Barrington system for more details.
- Finally it was great to meet with Alex Willard from AI startup Pivigo last week. Recently backed by a > £1m round featuring Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund, Alex has assembled a top-drawer team working out of Electric Works and Acero Spaces including Silicon Valley ‘name’ Ron Black as Chair. We are doing our best to tap her in to local connections and support initiatives as she grows the business.