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Lancashire Digital Hub and Manchester Digital land shares of Barclays Eagle Labs tech funding

Northern Reach, the Lancaster-based tech businesses consultancy which manages the Lancashire County Council-funded Lancashire Digital Hub initiative, and Manchester Digital have both been awarded a funding boost through the Barclays Eagle Labs Ecosystem Partnership Programme.

The programme, which includes over £1m of ringfenced Barclays Eagle Digital Growth Grant, supports organisations which are embedded in their local entrepreneurial ecosystem and are helping to grow their region’s tech economy.

The Barclays Eagle Labs investment in Lancashire has been match funded by Lancashire County Council and Northern Reach and will enable the expansion and enhancement to many of Lancashire Digital Hub’s current activities.

These will include increasing the frequency of the Hub’s regular Tech Talks evenings, Digital Leaders meet ups, and Techy Tuesday drop-in sessions, all of which have helped bring Lancashire’s different technology communities together.

In addition, the funding will enable the development and delivery of several new workstreams including a start-up weekend featuring content curated specifically to support fledgling tech ventures and novice entrepreneurs.

Lancashire Digital Hub’s bolstered business support activities will further be calibrated to complement other early stage provision being delivered in Lancashire by programmes such as FHundED and Boost’s Access to Finance service.

In Greater Manchester, the programme will support 200 startups and founders, 20 in each of the 10 boroughs, over an initial period of 12 months. This programme will sit under Manchester Digital’s existing Startup Activator programme, which was launched last year. 

Phase One of the programme will see a series of roadshows across the region that will deliver activity to 20 startups in each of the 10 boroughs. During Phase Two, 100 startups with the most high growth potential will be onboarded onto a more intensive programme where they will have the opportunity to receive mentoring and a series of webinars, as well as attend a full day of workshops and masterclasses to accelerate their growth.  

Manchester Digital MD Katie Gallagher OBE said: “Our Startup Activator programme offers a bold vision of a hyperlocal, inclusive, and thriving startup ecosystem across Greater Manchester. Our plan is to catalyse the creation of exceptional, startup tech businesses across each of the 10 boroughs in the Greater Manchester region by giving networks of diverse founders the help and support they need to build their own tech business. 

“Diversity is the cornerstone of developing innovative products and services and by connecting people from diverse backgrounds to the assets and support to grow and scale a tech business we will create high quality jobs right across the region.”

In Lancashire, Dan Knowles, founder and MD of Northern Reach, said: “Since 2022, the Lancashire Digital Hub’s objective has been to facilitate and strengthen relationships between disparate technology clusters, bring early stage businesses and scale-ups together with potential investors, and connect key tech influencers with Lancashire’s wider business community.

“Two years on and our programme of meetups and peer-to-peer networking sessions, together with annual gatherings like the Lancashire Digital Summit, has helped establish a thriving digital industries community which might otherwise have remained siloed. Now, we can not only expand and increase the coverage and frequency of the Hub’s existing activities, we can also develop new initiatives such as the first ever Lancashire start-up weekend.”

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