Accessability Links


Wednesday 25th November 2015
After thoroughly enjoying our visit to the Tech North Northern Stars event back in October (read about our previous visit here) we took the opportunity to head over to the grand final event in Manchester (24/11/15).

“100 applicants, 2 months, 57 pitches, 7 cities, 23 finalists”

The grand final was held at the UKfast Head office in Manchester. On arrival to the offices it was clear to see why UKfast had been recognised so many times for being a great place to work.

The company have really embraced innovation into the working environment, making it a different, exciting and inspiring place to work. From an office bar, giant chess tables, gyms, even a crèche, you name these offices probably had it. The type of thing you would expect to find in the offices of the likes of Facebook and Google.

Claire Braithwaite head of Tech North kicked off the event. “Where’s the Northern Powerhouse? It’s right here in this room. We’ve been blown away by the quality of Businesses and the amazing talent you all have.”

Lawrence Jones founder of Ukfast also gave an introduction to his journey to success with UKfast, and gave some advice and motivation to the pitching start-ups about what it takes to be an entrepreneur.

“The team is the most important thing in the success of a tech business. Founders – you need to motivate your team, treat them the way you want to be treated.” Lawrence’s ethos is visible in the working environment at Ukfast with a poster on the office bar wall reading “ Find a job you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life.”

Then the start- up pitches started. It was really brilliant to see the level of tech talent, amazing ideas and initiative coming out, right here on our door step in The North. All the start-ups were brilliant, but the ones that stuck out for us we’re…

Skignz - Teeside - @skignz
Skignz is a mobile browser app using geo location and augmented reality technologies to overlay the physical world with digital content through the mobile devices camera. Users download the skignz app to smartphones and tablets (wearables such as google glass are in development) and then scan the sky for virtual signs in the sky (‘skignz’).

The reason why we liked this app was because of how interactive it was, and the way technology is developing this seems like the next logical step in terms of map, and search engines. Maps at the moment can only tell you so much, so being able to take a snap shot and then have all types of information regarding what’s in the picture come up would be really helpful.

Pimoroni - Sheffield - @pimoroni
Pimoroni were different to all the other finalists in that they made hardware, rather than software / SaaS products.  Their latest product they showcased on the night at the event is called Flotilla and it’s a cool piece of kit that will help people to either learn how to program through something like a Raspberry Pi or to build/manufacture your own robot!  It’s the first plug and play hardware!  This would be a great tool to help teach the basics of programming / hardware production to children especially, but also to grown up kids like our MD Andrew.

23 northern tech start- ups pitched in total, and they we’re all unique and equally impressive. However there could only be 10 winners. Which were:

Airstock -
Evaluagent - @evaluagent
Formisimo - @formisimo
Geek Talent - @geektalent
Gnatta - @Gnatta
In-Part - @in_part - @leaffm
M14 Industries - @BristlrApp
Peak - @peak_bi
Receptive -

The 10 winners will receive, a place in the Tech North pavilion at TechCrunch Disrupt (London Dec 7 – 8) and 2 x tickets to the conference. Meetings with some of the Europe’s leading early stage investors and mentors. Winners will pitch at a dedicated investor pitch event at Bloomberg, London, and will also receive pitch training and media/PR support. Not to mention invites to high profile events in the UK and Europe and attendance at SXSW festival in Austin, Texas! WOW. Not bad at all.

All in all was a great experience to attend and support the Tech North and Northern stars initiative! And we’re looking forward to seeing what else is in store for the New Year.

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