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How the North is home to trailblazing tech companies


From scaling AI firms to innovative start-ups, the North is now home to a thriving ecosystem of tech companies building a Northern tech powerhouse.

Manchester-based The Hut Group and cloud data integration company Matillion are just a handful of companies in the North of England that have reached ‘unicorn’ status with a valuation of over $1bn.

The trailblazing success of tech companies like these is underpinned by infrastructure and connectivity with top universities, accelerators and networks.

Exchange scheme at Enterprise City.

Connectivity through support networks

Helping companies to scale, grow and raise funds, the Exchange support programme at Enterprise City, delivered in partnership with Tech Nation, is just one of the support networks working with ambitious scale-ups and start-ups in Manchester.

Mo Aldalou, senior scaleup engagement manager at Tech Nation, said of the scheme recently: “The businesses we have seen come through the programme so far have developed into some incredible enterprises and it has been fantastic to see.”

The programme has seen success with start-ups including student networking app Umii, fintech platform Financielle, alumni PixelMax and My First Five Years.

Over in Leeds, Bruntwood SciTech’s dedicated tech hub Platform hosts both start-ups and established tech firms that benefit from access to funding, talent and tap into a large partner network from AI Tech North to Leeds Beckett University. Sheffield is emerging as a Northern tech powerhouse, attracting international names from Boeing, BT and Rolls-Royce, to university spin-outs such as insect-inspired AI companies like Opteran to robotics firms like Cyberselves.

Whereas in Hull and East Yorkshire, the region hosts a number of technological innovators, with companies like Internet of Things (IoT) and Smart-Cities scale-up Connexin.

Bruntwood SciTech's Platform tech hub.
Bruntwood SciTech’s Platform tech hub.

Hotspots of pioneering start-ups

Whether it be in Newcastle, Manchester, Hull or Leeds, hotspots of pioneering start-ups are emerging across a variety of specialisms from fintech, ecommerce, tech for good to even deathtech.

Recent rising stars have included deathtech start-up Settld, tech for good developer Culture Shift and second-hand platform THRIFT.

There’s no shortage of support, with global accelerator programme Transform SY launching in South Yorkshire last year to accelerate the region’s tech ecosystem. The likes of Dynamo North East and Sunderland Software City have teamed up to grow the digital and tech economy in the North East.

“The technology here is as exciting as it comes; real artificial intelligence and machine learning, we’re talking about cutting-edge technologies,” said Mark Thompson, director of software development at Ideanomics. Ideanomics Digital, supported by Dynamo North East and Sunderland Software City, recently announced plans for a recruitment drive in Newcastle to create at least 25 new jobs.

Culture Shift CEO Gemma McCall and the co-founders of Financielle.

Investment and attracting global companies

To continue cementing the North as a tech powerhouse, building a solid talent pipeline, attracting investment and creating jobs are key.

American tech firm Credera is one of the global companies already branching out to the North, recently announcing £45m investment in both Manchester and Newcastle to create hundreds of jobs.

Speaking at the time of the announcement, Secretary of State for International Trade Anne-Marie Trevelyan, said: “This boost of investment into our thriving northern tech sector is testament to the friendly and open business environment the UK offers, which creates high-value jobs, delivers clean growth and innovation, and builds our economy.

“The Northern Powerhouse is a force to be reckoned with.”

Credera is not the only global company with sights set on the North. American streaming giant Roku recently revealed “ambitious” plans for its new Manchester office and global healthtech firm Tendable has opened an office at Bruntwood SciTech’s Platform hub in Leeds.

It’s clear there’s lots happening in the tech world across the North…

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