Tech North / Sheffield.Digital Showcase

Last night I attended the Tech North & Sheffield.Digital "Tech North Showcase" event in Sheffield (#tnshowcase)

Held at the Showroom Workstation, a building I know well, the organisers had managed to nearly fill the "Creative Lounge" room downstairs with a really solid turnout - one of the best on their recent tour of Northern cities, apparently.

Arriving early, plenty of time was available for that old Sheffield staple of Roast Pork cobs with stuffing and apple sauce - and a complementary beer (cheers!) and some early networking.

The event started promptly, with MC Kane Fulton giving a brief intro before handing over to Chris Dymond of Sheffield.Digital.

Chris gave an excellent run-down on Sheffield.Digital's activities over the last year, focussing on the community aspects (our Slack community now has well over 600 members), the support given to local startups, businesses and organisations, and the strong local Meetup community.
The discussion of the recent Meta-meetup, where the organisers of Sheffield's main tech groups came together to share ideas, frustrations and opportunities, was particularly interesting.

Successes in the last few months from The Floow, Pimoroni and Jaywing were mentioned (along with several others), and it was clear that we're in a growth period in Sheffield right now.
The emergence of multiple co-working spaces in town is one strong signal of future potential. I'm excited to see how it progresses.

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After Chris's presentation, Richard Gregory took over to talk about Tech North's growth and their journey over the last year.

With anecdotes about coming up with the Northern version of the Times Tech Track, the Northern Tech 100, the successes of Northern tech companies, and discussion of scale and difficulties of the tech skills gap, there was lots to think about here.

I'm especially excited about the opportunities for Tech North and partner orgs like Sheffield.Digital to help encourage early-stage and VC investors to look outside London, and the relaunch of the Northern Stars programme pitch competition for growing startups.

Following on from that we had a lively discussion about the Founders' Network, the new, improved version of which is opening up in September.
Lauren Nicholson spent 10 minutes involving us all by getting us to shout out topics, which was a quick and fun way of crowd-sourcing some discussion points as they gear up for September.

The next major section of the evening was a panel discussion - or a series of short interviews - where Kane chatted with Sam Chapman from The Floow, Cari Kirby from Team Cooper and Greg & Jessica from WANDisco.

Topics included the skills shortage again, and especially the growth of women in tech. It's a fascinating area (though perhaps less relevant to a tiny startup like CTX at the moment), but the interviews were, sadly, affected by the slighty iffy acoustics and mic setup in the room, and it wasn't always easy to hear what was being said.

After that, and a brief wrap-up from Richard, it was over to the bar for another beer and a bit of networking.

All in all a very useful and informative event.