Newcastle and the North East region needs to shake off the mindset that “you need to move away to be successful” and celebrate its tight-knit digital and tech community.
That is the view of ‘SuperConnector’ Paul Lancaster, founder of the five-day Newcastle Startup Week which is now in its second year.
Lancaster, who had worked ‘in the start-up world’ for more than 15 years, says there was lots of help and advice but felt there wasn’t one big event that brought everything together.
“I think the North East is a great place to start and grow a business because of the lower cost base and how quick and easy it is to get things up and running,” he told BusinessCloud.
“There’s a very collaborative business community here with lots of people willing to help and support you at every level.”
Lancaster says what’s needed is a little bit more belief – both locally and nationally – that Newcastle and the North East can be a great testbed city and a place to innovate and try new things.
“I think there’s still this mindset or old way of thinking that it’s too far North,” he said. “Some people can’t quite get their head around the fact that something special could be happening here – but then you have a company like Sage which is a global success story.
“There’s a reason why they are where they are and part of that is the people and the environment they’ve grown in.”
Lancaster adds that there is still a lack of appreciation for the region’s digital, creative and tech sector.
“There are still people locally with that old mindset that all the jobs have gone and you need to move away to be successful,” he said. “That’s old fashioned thinking and isn’t true anymore.”
Jamie Hardesty, community engagement manager for the North East at Tech Nation, echoes a similar sentiment.
“I think we could always do a better job and we can always shout louder,” he said.
“I personally feel that in the whole Northern Powerhouse narrative the North East has very much been on the periphery…so I think we do need to shout louder.
“What we do have here are all the right ingredients; we’ve got some great support organisations and networks, from Sunderland Software City and Digital Union to the emergence of the Newcastle Tech Trust.
“We’ve got the network and the potential – we’ve got the National Innovation Centre for Data here, so we really need to be shouting about it as loudly the possible.
“The people that are talking about it know the task and we know what we need to constantly keep the momentum going.”