Last week, the North’s technology community gathered at Manchester Cathedral to celebrate another brilliant year at the Northern Tech Awards.

The night offered an exceptional showcase of the sector’s best and brightest. Organiser GP Bullhound unveiled the 100 fastest-growing technology businesses in the North of England and Scotland, and recognised those demonstrating excellence in everything from world-class leadership to inclusive workplace culture.

As a judge, I had both the difficult task of helping to choose the winners, and a privileged vantage point from which I was able to gain a clear view of what’s driving success in the region and a perspective on the outlook for the technology sector.

Over the last few years, the world’s largest technology providers have been investing billions in new solutions powered by innovations like AI. A higher than ever proportion of the companies ranked this year were in the services space, which suggests those supporting organisations to develop and implement new technologies are growing rapidly.

As ever, this year’s winners have incredibly ambitious and high calibre leaders, innovation at the heart of their offerings and, perhaps more so than ever before, a clear commitment to having a positive impact on society.

Newcastle-headquartered Opencast, winner of the Fastest Growing Larger Company of the Year Award, is a great example. The software consultancy recently launched a new strategy with an increased focus on supporting the healthcare sector and delivering social impact. CEO Tom Lawson was one of our Top 50 Most Ambitious Business Leaders in 2023, and we’re excited to see what’s next for the business.

Bumper celebration as Northern Tech Awards winners revealed

Diverse strategies driving growth

At LDC we’ve been investing in technology businesses for more than 40 years and have seen how private equity partnerships can help the management teams leading them to achieve their goals.

Being on the judging panel this year really underlined the attributes that give the region’s tech stars their edge.

The variety of businesses represented in the ranking of fastest-growing businesses highlights how companies are implementing a diverse range of strategies to continue growing in an unpredictable environment.

We partner with medium-sized technology businesses and eight companies in our portfolio were included in this year’s ranking – each with their own unique offering and growth strategy.

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Take Manchester-based WCCTV, which ranked 54th. We invested in the security technology business in 2021 to support the management team’s international growth strategy. They saw a big opportunity to rapidly scale their products in the US, and with our support have opened depots in Texas and California and established a partner network across the country. As a result, WCCTV announced an increase in revenue of more than 20% in its latest financial year, with most of the growth coming from North America.

Meanwhile, Sheffield-based student accommodation advertising platform UniHomes, which ranked 29th , is firmly focused on regional expansion in the UK. We backed the management team last July to help them invest in their proprietary technology and take advantage of the rapidly expanding student accommodation market. Letting agents can integrate UniHomes’ platform with their own back-office systems and generate enquiries to fill their student accommodation portfolios. This month the business announced it now has partnerships with lettings agents in more than 50 UK towns and cities.

The diversity of approach seen in our own portfolio reflects what we’re currently hearing in our conversations with management teams across the North. As economic conditions hopefully continue to improve this year, I’m confident that this adaptability will continue to drive the technology sector’s growth in the region.

Congratulations again to all of those recognised at this year’s awards – and roll on 2025!

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