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DCF Anchor Event: Digital Leaders Summit & Reception

The first event of Digital City Festival 2024 brings together leaders, businesses and figures from both the public and private sectors to address the challenges and opportunities for digital growth in the North


Part of Digital City Festival 2024

We’re kicking off the Festival week by bringing together 100+ key industry leaders across the North’s digital and tech sectors to discuss:

  • Growth & innovation of the North’s digital economy
  • Access to investment & funding in the North
  • The talent pipeline
  • How digital & tech can support the green agenda

Home to the leading tech hub outside of London (Greater Manchester), and a combined £28bn digital ecosystem, the North is a hotbed of innovation and talent which has attracted a succession of global companies, like Amazon,, Sage and Roku, whilst developing home-grown startups and scale-ups.

The joined forces of dynamic cities in Northern England make a compelling offer – access to a globally competitive workforce, supported by graduates from across 25 universities each year, excellent support networks and collaboration across a robust digital infrastructure. Companies based here raised more than £500m in 2022, further evidence to validate the North as a tech hub of international significance. 

In order to continue this fantastic story of success and innovation, we know businesses, support organisations, as well as the education and public sectors in the North need to continue to collaborate and share ideas. 

Spaces are limited, please register your interest to attend below and our team will be in touch!

Prolific North will make the event review publicly available.


Arrival & Welcome
This is the place: Greater Manchester doing digital differently

Greater Manchester is on an exciting journey as the region becomes a world-leading digital city region with an ongoing commitment to being open, innovative and connective. This is the place where digital connectivity makes things better for people, a place removing barriers to equitable digital access. Where communities, business, academia and public services work together to create opportunity, innovate and invent; and where growth benefits everybody. A place that makes things happen.

How critical is the sector to the North’s growth and how is the region fostering innovation?

- Phil Swan, Director of Digital - Greater Manchester Combined Authority
- Liz Scott MBE, Director - Turing Innovation Catalyst
- Carl Jones, Chief Strategy Officer - Cloud Imperium Games
- Jess Jackson, Investment Manager - Praetura Ventures

Creating real business value from AI

Join Heather and Alastair as they discuss generating real business value from AI beyond the hype and the proof of concept. They will highlight the role of governance and the modern data platform in enabling organisations to adopt use cases quickly and easily, and ultimately drive added value for the business.

- Dr Alastair Gill, Principal Data Scientist at GFT
- Heather Statham, Principal Consultant at GFT

Networking break
Panel discussion: Investing in our start-up ecosystem

What does the Manchester Startup ecosystem look like and how do we invest and fund its success?
Hosted by Angela Harrington, Director of Inclusive Economy - Manchester City Council
- George Mensah, VC Investor at Valley Ventures
- David Levine, Principal of Manchester Angels
- Katie Gallagher OBE, Managing Director of Manchester Digital
- Liz Scott MBE, Director - Turing Innovation Catalyst

Panel discussion: Strengthening our digital talent pipeline

What is needed to future-proof the region’s talent pipeline?
- Jason Beaumont, Chief Executive of Access Industry
- Amul Batra, Co-Founder and Chief Partnerships Officer at Northcoders
- Charli Wild, Software Engineer and Academy Lead at Krakenflex (Octopus Energy)

Panel discussion: How do we keep digital cities safe?

- Sameena Khan, Director Partnerships and Community at IN4 Group
- Matthew Squire, CTO of Fuzzy Labs
- Emma Green, Managing Partner at Cyber Data Law Solicitors

Drinks reception


Phil Swan Profile Photo
Phil Swan
Director for Digital
Greater Manchester Combined Authority
Phil leads the digital portfolio at Greater Manchester Combined Authority and is responsible for leading the next chapter in Greater Manchester’s ambition to be recognised as a world-leading digital city region, with an ongoing commitment to taking an open, innovative and connective approach and ‘doing digital differently’.
Liz Scott
Liz Scott MBE
Turing Innovation Catalyst
Liz is a long time tech ecosystem supporter, advisor and advocate. She has supported businesses large and small, nationally and internationally to grow, innovate and evolve for over 20 years. As Director at the newly established Turing Innovation Catalyst Manchester (TIC), Liz is focused on building a new not for profit that will catalyse an AI ecosystem across Greater Manchester, and will use AI to grow careers, businesses and the city economy.
Heather Statham Square
Heather Statham
Principal Consultant
Heather is a Principal Consultant with 10 years of experience in financial services working with senior business stakeholders and IT development teams to implement efficient end-to-end structured software development. She is passionate for delivering strategic technology initiatives globally to support business in achieving their growth strategies. Heather has managed multidisciplinary teams from design to implementation to deliver complex, user-centric applications.
Alastair Gill Square 2
Dr Alastair Gill
Principal Data Scientist
Alastair is a principal data scientist with over 20 years’ experience in natural language processing and machine learning, and has worked with clients across a range of industries from financial services and insurance to large industrials and logistics.
David Levine
David Levine
Manchester Angels
David is a serial entrepreneur in the technology sector and Principal at Manchester Angels; a technology investment angel network in partnership with leading global tech advisory GP Bullhound and commercial property specialist Bruntwood. He also runs Glenluna Ventures - a tech advisory business that raises money for early-stage startups and scaleups.
Katie Gallagher
Katie Gallagher OBE
Managing Director
Manchester Digital
Katie currently runs two successful not-for-profit membership organisations both of which play a key role in the development of the region's tech and cyber eco-system, she is an experienced founder and strategist with an entrepreneurial mindset and a deep understanding of ecosystems. She has over 15 years experience of delivering innovative services, support and guidance to start-ups, scale-ups and corporates as well as managing and creating successful public/private sector partnerships.
Matthew Squire
Matthew Squire
Fuzzy Labs
Matt is CTO and co-founder at Fuzzy Labs, a consultancy dedicated to using MLOps to help technical teams productionise machine learning. He enjoys AI, bio-inspired computing, and functional programming.
Emma Green
Emma Green
Managing Partner
Cyber Data Law Solicitors
Emma oversees driving improvements and the implementation of data protection and cyber security global programs for clients and organisations. Emma has over 25 years’ experience in IT, is an award-winning trainer, speaker, co-author of an IBM Redbook, member of the International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP) and is a Cyber Essentials assessor marking over 900 assessments in the past 4 years. She has a Post Graduate Certificate in Data Protection Law and Information Governance. Emma
Carl Jones (1)
Carl Jones
Chief Strategy Officer
Cloud Imperium Games
Carl started his career in the early 90’s as a defence analyst for the UK Ministry of Defence, before moving into the private sector as a consultant defence and operational analyst. In 2014, Carl joined Cloud Imperium Games as Director of Business Development, bringing a group of senior developers from Crytek and establishing CIG’s Frankfurt studio. Carl was soon promoted to Chief Operating Officer of the company, and oversaw the building of CIG’s state of the art Manchester office.
Jess Praetura Ventures (1)
Jess Jackson
Investment Manager
Praetura Ventures
Jess Jackson is an investment manager at Praetura Ventures and is responsible for identifying and managing investment opportunities for our EIS Growth Fund and the GMC Life Sciences Fund By Praetura, as well as NPIFII NW Equity Fund. She is leading the PraeSeed Cohort investing programme, launching in May for applications from pre-revenue startups in the North.
Angela Oxford Road (1)
Angela Harrington
Director of Inclusive Economy
Manchester City Council
Angela is Director of Inclusive Economy at Manchester City Council and provides leadership for the City's inclusive growth priorities, including the work that Manchester City Council does to support business and connect local residents to the employment opportunities created by the City's growth. She is also responsible for MAES (Manchester Adult Education Service).
George Mensah Headshot (1)
George Mensah
VC Investor
Sure Valley Ventures
George has nearly a decade of experience across venture capital, private equity and public markets, focusing predominantly on high growth companies. George is passionate about supporting early-stage growth companies. He is an Advisory Board Member for Tech Nation, focused on driving growth and innovation across the UK, and is involved with some amazing mentorship programmes, including Digital Catapult‘s Black Founders Programme with Sony Music.
Jason Beaumont Headshot
Jason Beaumont
Chief Executive
Access Industry
Jason Beaumont is the CEO of Access Creative College.
Amul Batra Headshot
Amul Batra
Co-Founder and Chief Partnerships Officer
Amul spent 20 years in the music industry, latterly as managing director of Fwinki Music, a music management and consultancy company. He left music to set up a tech start-up and signed up to Northcoders first-ever cohort. During his time as a student, Amul was attracted by the wider Northcoders business proposition and became an early investor in NCR. He is responsible for critical account business development and has played a vital role in securing many of Northcoders contracts with businesses.
Charli Wild
Charli Wild
Software Engineer and Academy Lead
Krakenflex (Octopus Energy)
Charli is a Software Engineer at Kraken, working to facilitate flexibility on the electricity grid. They also lead the Kraken Academy, an extended onboarding program for junior software and data engineers. Having come from a non traditional technical background, they are passionate about improving access to digital careers.
Sameena Khan Square
Sameena Khan
Director Partnerships and Community
IN4 Group
Sameena is dedicated to fostering diversity and cultivating a talent pipeline in the fields of technology and cybersecurity. With her extensive background spanning over two decades across various government departments, particularly in national security and cybersecurity roles, she brings invaluable insights and expertise. Her commitment to building a more inclusive and skilled workforce is crucial in addressing the evolving challenges and opportunities in these critical sectors.

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Sponsored By

MediaCity Wordmark Flat Black
Headline partner - MediaCity
AI Logo 03
Education Partner - Access Industry
Event partner - GFT
DS DDT Logo Pink
Event partner - Manchester City Council
GMCA Logos Master Digital RGB Colour 2
Event partner - Greater Manchester Combined Authority
Start: April 15, 2024 1:00 pm
End: April 15, 2024 6:30 pm

Hosted at

No.1 Circle Square, Bruntwood SciTech

No.1 Circle Square, Symphony Park, Manchester, UK

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