The Northern Tech 100 League Table

The first ever league table is being compiled to feature the top 100 tech companies in the North of England. The table will rank the 100 fastest growing tech companies, with rankings based on revenue growth over the past three years.

The table is being assembled by Tech North and their partners, technology investment bank GP Bullhound. For those who are not familiar with Tech North, they are part of Tech City UK, a Government initiative set up in 2014 to increase home grown tech talent and create a tech scene that rivals our overseas competitors.

To be eligible to enter, you must be a technology company with a minimum of £500,000 revenue in 2014, as well as being based in the North of the UK (Scotland included).

As there has never before been a regionalised table such as this, the final output is eagerly anticipated, and will no doubt afford the companies listed with a great deal of recognition. There is also a possibility that the table will be utilised by companies outside the sector when looking for prospective project partners.

The deadline for entries is 24 February 2017. The league table will be published on 30 March 2017 and winners will be celebrated at the Northern Tech Awards 2017 in Newcastle on the same day.

To enter visit Northern Tech Awards 

The Fourth Industrial Revolution

In December 2016 we saw the long anticipated, first ever UK drone delivery in the UK. The delivery was made in Cambridge on Wednesday by an Amazon drone. The future is here. However, this story is not unique. In the past few weeks, we have seen other news stories that show just how technology is changing simple interactions as part of our daily life. British Aerospace have started trials in autonomous aircraft technology, Amazon have launched their checkout free grocery stores in New York, self-driving cars are coming to UK roads and a teaching surgeon (Dr Shafi Ahmed) has livestreamed an operation using Snapchat spectacles.

Although some of the appropriateness of the technology uses is still being discussed, it is hard to deny that technology is becoming a continual game changer in all industries from consumer based travel and retail to advanced medical training.

Earlier this year, the founder of The World Economic Forum Klaus Schwab, released a book on the subject of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. He believes that we currently stand on the brink of a technological revolution that will fundamentally alter the way we live, work and relate to one another.

He states that: In its scale, scope, and complexity, the transformation will be unlike anything humankind has experienced before.”

Like the revolutions that preceded it, the Fourth Industrial Revolution has the potential to raise global income levels and improve the quality of life for populations around the world.

The First Industrial Revolution used water and steam power to mechanize production. The Second used electric power to create mass production. The Third used electronics and information technology to automate production. Now a Fourth Industrial Revolution is building on the Third, the digital revolution that has been occurring since the middle of the last century. It is characterised by a fusion of technologies that is blurring the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres.

Digital fabrication technologies, meanwhile, are interacting with the biological world on a daily basis. Engineers, designers, and architects are pioneering and making advances in the relationships between technology, the products we consume, and even the buildings we inhabit.

There are many organisations in Lancashire, that are already taking part in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, and perhaps more so than the more talked about city centre agencies, as the really exciting technology is coming from a manufacturing background. This is where the innovative technology is happening, from fabrics with sensors in to provide healthcare data to automated flights, it is all taking place in our county.
Is your business contributing to this new revolution? Please get in touch, we would like to hear more.

Ethics and Governance in Artificial Intelligence (AI)


LinkedIn and eBay founders Reid Hoffman and Pierre Omidyar donate $10m each to the Ethics and Governance of Artificial Intelligence Fund.

As technological advances are made, artificial intelligence is becoming a more prominent attribute of technology, it is interesting to see that two major tech giants are investing funds into the governance of such emerging technology.

The $20 million will go to the Ethics and Governance of Artificial Intelligence Fund, which will distribute money to researchers working on the tough ethical problems raised by AI.

LinkedIn’s Reid Hoffman says; “There’s an urgency to ensure that AI benefits society and minimises harm,” said Hoffman. “AI decision-making can influence many aspects of our world – education, transportation, health care, criminal justice and the economy – yet data and code behind those decisions can be largely invisible.”

The fund is one of many new bodies aimed at shaping the future of AI in a positive, or at least, thoughtful direction.

We would like to hear what you think? Do you work with AI?

Get in touch

Digital Skills

Digital Skills Gap

The Digital Skills Gap Issue:

In recent years, there have been multiple reports that the region is suffering a skills shortage in the digital sector. Both Tech North and Manchester’s New Economy found that more than half of the digital businesses in the North have been forced to decline new business due to a lack of skilled resource.

The Digital Skills Audit revealed that 29% of companies in the digital sector had turned down work worth more than £50,000. This is a concerning statistic, and it begs the question why this is such an issue.

A Government report issued in June 2015 by MP’, stated that “urgent action is needed to deal with the UK’s digital skills crisis, or it risks damaging the country’s productivity and competitiveness.” This prophecy has now been fulfilled, with the challenges being faced currently in the digital sector nationwide.

The report went on to say that “Stubborn digital exclusion and systemic problems with education and training need to be urgently addressed”. It was following this that the Government’s digital strategy was published as an attempt to tackle the issue.

Although this problem is of national magnitude, it is believed that the North of England is suffering the effects more than most.

Andy Lovatt from The White Room, believes the reason for this could be very practical, naming location and travelling distance as a potential contributor that has exacerbated the issue in Lancashire.

Ultimately the onus of the problem, is the current education system, not supporting the modern developments of the expanding digital sector. Andy believes the current education offering is a real issue, and even the newest developments in apprenticeship schemes are coming too late, and that secondary education is the area most in need of the change.

The new standards being developed should help make apprenticeship training more relevant, however they don;t correct or rectify the failings of secondary education”.

There are schools that are adapting the new needs of the business world, however these tend to be public schools, such as Manchester Creative Studio. They are an employer led ‘studio school’. The institute provide young people aged 14-19 with the skills and knowledge they need for a career in the creative and digital industries.

With their course curriculum covering aspects such as; the creative process and proposal writing skills, through to file transfer options and API integration, the pupils graduating from this learning environment will be much more equipped for the modern workplace.

However schools such as these are rare, and have extremely limited places. The education sector as a whole needs to develop and adapt their offers, to meet the changing needs of the digital economy.

The Government have recognised this issue, and has put together a number of recommendations of how to rectify the issue. One of the major recommendations is for ‘Employers to take ownership of digital skills development.’

This can be done in a number of ways:

  • Collaborate at a national level. Employers should collaborate, through networks and partnerships, to develop coherent national approaches to raising digital skills levels, bringing together digital leaders from all sectors. For example, industry should take a lead role in researching key productivity gaps with their relevant business/sector, so they can understand the advantages of upskilling and future proofing their workforce.
  • Lead on setting standards. Employers should play a lead role in setting the minimum standards that individuals are expected to acquire through education and are expected to acquire through education and training, including the digital skills that are transferable across different roles, for example, cyber security, digital marketing etc.
  • Build the skills of their own employees. Employers should ensure existing staff have the training to keep their digital skills updated, and develop active recruitment and development strategies to maximise the digital skills of their workforce.
  • Foster lifelong learning. Employers should help embed a culture which recognises and builds on the latent talents of their employees, actively supporting their learning through a wide range of learning approaches, to prepare them for future roles in the UK workforce. This could involve a mixture of vocational on-the-job training and employer led short courses with academic accreditation.

(Full ‘Digital Skills for the UK Economy report found here )

It is in light of these recommendations that Digital Lancashire have partnered to create the Digital Advantage project.

Digital Advantage seeks to transform the lives and careers of all those who participate in it and to give the whole region a Digital Advantage. The project will bring together industry experts with colleges and sixth forms to deliver digital industry skills and experience into the classroom.

This groundbreaking initiative will see 16-18 year olds in the Lancashire region invaluable access to digital skills and career advice.

Find out more about the Digital Advantage Project

Red Rose Awards 2017

Red Rose Awards 2017 launched!

National award-winning event Red Rose Awards, have announced a new category to their catalogue.

The category of ‘Digital Agency Award’ was created in response to feedback from applicants in previous years, where the only relevant category for digital business was under the ‘Creative Business’ award category. However applicants felt that that title didn’t fully represent the work they did.

The Marketing Manager for Red Rose Awards, Rachael Norris says;

“We felt that the Creative Business may not be the right award to cover all aspects of the sector. We define creative business as the people creating the collateral, then the Digital Agencies, who then do something with that collateral.”

The events founder Richard Slater said;

“Red Rose Awards is the biggest awards event in Lancashire. We take the categories for the awards very seriously by reviewing each year, taking on feedback from entrants, finalists, winners and judges to ensure they are relevant, popular and reflect the vibrant industries operating across the county.

The growing and diverse digital industry in Lancashire can’t be ignored and we felt we needed to honour the businesses in this sector with the dedicated Digital Agency Award category.

This new category is an exciting change for us – it’s a way in which we can promote the industry to the wider business community and we look forward to reviewing the entries and interviewing those that make it through to the finals on judging day!”

The two creative categories are ‘such a complex industry’ that they have their own judging panel separate from the other 24 categories, made up of industry professionals including Digital Lancashire.

The awards have continued to grow since their inception in 2011, and have seen tickets completely sell out for the past three years running. Red Rose Awards are now open for entries.

Richard Slater, publisher of Lancashire Business View, said: “This event celebrates Lancashire business, provides the best possible platforms to promote success, and encourages trade in the county.”

To take part in the Red Rose Awards, visit The closing date for entries is Friday 13 January 2017. The Awards take place at The Winter Gardens, Blackpool, on Thursday 9 March 2017.

Tech Nation Report – We Need You !!!

Tech Nation Survey

Tech Nation needs your help! They need everybody who operates within the tech sector in the UK to share its voice in its annual survey.

Tech Nation 2016 provided the most detailed analysis to date of how the digital sector is driving economic growth, showcasing the innovation and energy of tech hubs across the UK.  The report was well received around the world and has become a beacon of information into the performance of 27 of the UK’s digital clusters.

The survey takes seven minutes to complete, and participating you will have the possibility of being featured as one of over 40 case studies in the Tech Nation 2017 report.

Deadline:  5th December 2016

Please help us get everybody in the region involved!

To help us raise awareness, please use the #digitallancs and #technation hashtags and let everyone know that you have taken part, by sharing on twitter/linkedin or facebook



Google Shopping Event With Dream Agility

If you are an agency or smaller retailer you too can benefit from Google award-winning ad technology. Come and see how at the launch of Dream Agility Lite and Dream Agility Chunky.

Building on the unrivalled results of its enterprise shopping platform, Ramsbottom-based Dream Agility will be unveiling a suite of tools designed specifically for agencies and smaller retailers on Friday, September 30th at 9:30am.

As their names suggest, Dream Agility Lite and Dream Agility Chunky are bite-sized versions of Dream Agility’s distinctive feed and bidding technologies platform that has facilitated striking improvements in sales performance for online retailers.

Motivated by the belief that such uplifts should be shared among businesses on tighter budgets, Dream Agility has developed compact and affordable modules that retain its trademark level of ad technology and exposure to selected online shopping platforms such as Google and Bing territories, eBay and Affiliate Window.

Dream Agility will also be presenting their latest Retail Report on avoiding the Cyber Week pitfalls that Google don’t tell you about. The report also contains a section for retailers with in-store purchasing (or “shops”) on how to take advantage of Google’s local inventory ads. So read all about it to safeguard a highly profitable winter 2016.

The launch event is being held in association with FinTech curators Rise Manchester. Coffee and pastries are provided by bean connoisseurs Grindsmith. Entry by ticket only, so register now to guarantee your place for free breakfast, top Google & Bing Shopping tips and a preview of new sales-busting tools.

The event also comes the week after Dream Agility won the Innovation Award at the Northern E-Commerce Awards 2016, so ensure you register to meet the best Northern innovators!

Stewart Townsend from Digital Lancashire will also be attending the launch event – so please come along to find out more about our organisation.

To register, please contact Andrew Bell on

Click here to register:

Digital Lancashire launches with free Founder Memberships

Digital Lancashire have launched free Founder Memberships for the first 100 eligible companies and individuals who sign up as a member.

Digital Lancashire is a not-for-profit Community Interest Company that has been established to shine a light on the digital sector in the county, whilst providing a focus for skills development, recruitment, support, engagement and collaborations.

The organisation is founded by six owners of digital companies in the Lancashire area, who have collaborated following their own personal experiences of working in and with businesses in the digital sector in the Lancashire area.

Stewart Townsend, Managing Director, Digital Lancashire said, “Having worked in the digital sector for over 15 years, I know how much businesses can benefit from collaboration and networking with like-minded companies to find and deliver work and with educational establishments to help discover and develop talent. Collectively we know how much more can be done to benefit each business, the sector as a whole and our local communities and the county.”

The mission is to provide support to both individuals and organisations working in or aspiring to work in the digital sector in Lancashire. This includes support with skills development, funding and investment, helping develop the right infrastructure, inward investment and business development to help member companies grow.

Digital can be a daunting, rapidly changing industry, the aim of Digital Lancashire is to create an experienced, informative and friendly community organisation who will share knowledge, experiences and information via events, mentoring, and support groups.

In addition to this, the organisation will be working with schools, colleges and universities to develop the wider strategy for developing digital skills and literacy in Lancashire, with the aim of introducing and retaining digital talent in the area.

Michael Gibson, Chair of Digital Lancashire and Director of Miralis Data in Lancaster adds, “The digital economy in Lancashire is booming with fantastic businesses including, amongst others, digital agencies, e-commerce companies, online software, big data and artificial intelligence. With the digital sector growing three times faster than the rest of the economy and pay 36% higher on average it is vital for Lancashire’s economy that we do everything possible to boost the digital sector.”

To find out more about Digital Lancashire, register as a free member to receive invites to exclusive events, industry information and insights, local business news and to of course support the development of Lancashire’s digital practitioners and businesses!

The first 100 sign ups will be recognised as Founder Members of the organisation, for as long as a continuous membership is maintained – this is applicable for both individual and corporate members and is free for the first 12 months. For more information, visit Benefits of Joining.

Digital Burnley

The Digital Burnley Pilot continues to be a be a success with our partners Burnley Bondholders and Burnley Council. The group has brought together over 60 businesses from across the area and helping to provide a forum to help shape the future of Burnley and the companies working in it.

Manchester, Leeds and Liverpool have developed thriving digital cultures but, while we currently lag behind, Burnley has the facilities, skills and knowledge bases to compete.

Insight has been given by the group to help influence key decisions regarding future infrastructure projects as well as a forum for just having a beer or coffee to discuss working together or gaining insight from people that are further down the path.