VC investment in Northern start-ups passes £90M

Venture Capital investors have pumped more than $114 million (£90m) into Northern start-up businesses in the first six months of this year.

That is according to Venture Pulse 2018, a quarterly report on global VC trends published by KPMG Enterprise, with data from PitchBook.

A total of 47 businesses from the region saw investment from global VC investors between January and June, out of 449 deals completed across the UK.

While the first half of 2018 has been steadily busy for VC investment in the North, other parts of the UK have seen activity pick up in the second quarter after a slower start. The surge in activity has propelled the UK back to the top of the European VC market.

“It’s encouraging to see that continued uncertainty in the macropolitical and macroeconomic environment does not appear to be substantially hampering appetite for investment in UK startups, especially in the North, which has had two strong quarters in a row,” said Graham Pearce, KPMG’s head of technology in the North.

Read more at Business Cloud.

Morven Christie to lead cast of new ITV drama set in Morecambe

Written by award-winning, Lancaster-based writer Daragh Carville (Being Human, The Smoke, Cherrybomb), Christie (The A Word, The Replacement) will lead the cast of The Bay as Detective Sergeant Lisa Armstrong, a fierce and hard-working family liaison officer.

Joining Christie are Jonas Armstrong (Troy, Ripper Street), Tracie Bennett (Scott & Bailey, Coronation Street), Lindsey Coulson (Funny Cow, Bullet Proof), Chanel Cresswell (This is England ’90, Murdered For Being Different) and Louis Greatorex (Last Tango in Halifax, Safe).

The Bay will be executive produced by Catherine Oldfield (Trauma, Home Fires) for Tall Story Pictures. Produced by Philip Leach (Wire in the Blood, No Offence) with episodes 1-3 directed by Lee Haven Jones (Shetland, Vera) and episodes 4-6 directed by Robert Quinn (Home Fires, Endeavour, No Offence).

Filming begins this month in and around the Morecambe area…

Read on at Prolific North.

Lancaster-based Miralis Data nominated as top AI innovator

BusinessCloud has revealed its list of 51 of the UK’s top artificial intelligence innovators, including Lancaster-based Miralis Data:

In the fast-changing world of AI we’re shining a light on 51 of the companies that we feel are doing something especially innovative and disruptive with the technology.

People could nominate companies for possible inclusion in the list but we canvassed the opinion of industry experts before settling on the final line-up.

We’ve published them in alphabetical order but a public vote this week will decide the top company.

To vote just email the name of your winner to news@businesscloud.co.uk with the reason why you think they should win. It’s only one vote per person and/or  email address. The closing date in midday on Thursday 16th August.

Preston-based IT disputes firm acquired

A Preston consultancy which specialises in IT disputes and digital forensics has been snapped up by a global firm.

Blackrock Expert Services has purchased IT Group for an undisclosed sum in a bid to expand its capabilities in the IT sector.

IT Group specialises in technology while Blackrock has extensive experience in the construction industry.

Tony Sykes, the founder and joint managing director of IT Group, said: “IT Group has been involved in some of the world’s largest IT disputes, as well as disputes involving technology in construction projects.

“We are really excited about the opportunity to advise on Blackrock’s projects as well as continuing to offer technology dispute and forensic services to clients across the group.”

Giles Derry, chief executive of Blackrock Expert Services, added: “The shared ethos of quality, integrity and independence meant the two businesses were a natural fit together.

“The ever-increasing importance of technology in construction and the continued growth of technology, IP and data disputes means this will be an area where access to IT experts is essential.  There is a scarcity of experienced IT experts in the market place.”

More via Insider Media.

Becoming a paid membership organisation

Three years ago a group of digital business owners gathered together, with the support of Lancashire County Council, to discuss how the rapidly growing digital, innovation and tech sector in our region could be better supported and represented in the county and beyond.

We realised that we shared many common challenges, such as finding people with the right skills, accessing good training, events and apprenticeships, keeping skills in Lancashire, getting greater recognition for the superb work, achievements and job creation Lancashire digital businesses are making in the sector and, more widely, helping to improve best practice.

As a result, we formed Digital Lancashire, a not-for-profit CIC (Community Interest Company) overseen by a board of volunteer directors, with just one full-time member of staff.

The impact of our work has been considerable. Just over the last year, we have created digital city hubs in Burnley, Lancaster and Preston, run many well-attended meetings and events, hosted the National Infrastructure Commissioner, created a Lancaster Business Property Forum, worked closely with UCLan and Lancaster University on their offer, worked with the Scale Up Institute, seen another cohort of Digital Advantage graduate from our skills programme, written reports and sent regular newsletters, including dedicated jobs and events comms – and that’s just a fraction of what we’ve been up to!

Over the next few months, we’ll be growing our Women in Tech group and launching a Code for Lancaster team, a group of developers, designers, tech geeks and others who use open source technology to solve social problems; we’ll be developing and growing our city hubs; we’ll be working to see The Landmark in Burnley becomes a huge success; we’ll be running another Digital Advantage programme; we’ll be pulling together a whole load of data so that we have an accurate and granular map of the profile of tech in our county; we’ll be running a load of events, meetups and masterclasses; and November will see the first #LancashireDigitalDay…

We’ll also be launching a new website so it becomes the place to find out about jobs and tenders in the region. A directory showcasing our members will be a key part of the build.

To achieve our ambitions and to take Digital Lancashire, we need your help. We have created something beautiful in DL, but now (just like organisations like Manchester Digital, Wired Sussex and Bristol Media) we need to become a paid membership organisation so that we can achieve more of our ambitious plans.

We’ll be rolling out our membership model over the next few weeks, and we really want you to join and support us in the next part of our journey.

If you have got any questions about any of this, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

The Digital Lancashire Team

Digital Lancaster: Summer Lightning Talks (at The Borough)

Serium Summer Masquerade Ball

Seriun’s summer masquerade ball on 7th September is in support of their charity of the year Pendleside Hospice, who deliver round-the-clock care for those with debilitating and life-limiting illnesses, while supporting their families. A critical responsibility they have is sourcing their own fundraising streams to cover daily operating costs, which is why events like these are so important.

As a guest at the ball, you will enjoy exquisite food, live entertainment and dancing into the small hours. There’ll also be a number of fundraising activities, including a balloon raffle and charity auction – with some fantastic prizes on offer!

Seriun look forward to welcoming you to their ball, where you can relax and unwind among some of the area’s finest businesses.

TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE CHEAPER PRICES THROUGHOUT THE MONTH OF JULY ONLY

How co-working creates a work culture

There has been a huge drive towards co-working recently with tech start-ups around the country recognising the benefits of shared office space.

But as well as cost-savings, flexible hours and networking opportunities, there is another crucial benefit.

While some companies are in a position to offer employees beer on a Friday and team-building trips abroad, it can leave many without the time or the budget wondering how to create a culture of their own.

Interesting article from Business Cloud on the benefits of co-working…

Lancashire agency is the creative team behind prestigious Channel 4 event

A Lancashire-based creative studio was handpicked by Channel 4 to produce the branding and creative design for the biggest event in the broadcaster’s annual calendar.

Single Malt, which has offices in Lancaster and Kirkby Lonsdale, completed the prestigious project ahead of the Upfronts event at The Roundhouse in London earlier this month.

The studio was tasked with creating the branding for the summer event, as well as a series of graphics that ran throughout the whole venue.

Rebecca Hull, senior designer at Single Malt, said: “Being tasked with designing the creative, branding and experiential material for Channel 4’s biggest event of the year was obviously a challenge we were excited to get our teeth into! Alongside the branding, we created programme-specific set areas which really showcased the individual personalities for well-known shows, such as the Great British Bake Off, Gogglebox, Sunday Brunch, Made in Chelsea and First Dates. This was together with creating experiential areas, such as an All4 ice cream van, a Rugby Union Conversion Challenge, and BT Sport Penalty Challenge.

“The majority of the creative we produced was large format design, which included fully wrapped floor to ceiling canvasses, vinyl prints and huge foamex boards, as well as smaller collateral, including large posters, bar menus, chip cone prints and presentation slides. As a studio that encourages collaboration, the opportunity for full team involvement on such an exciting project was certainly something we have all enjoyed and has pushed our creativity.”

Barry Jones, Channel 4 Group event and communications manager, said: “With the Upfronts event being the biggest date in the Channel 4 calendar, we needed a design partner that had not only the capability to resource such a big project, but the ability to think creatively and understand what was needed from the outset. We were impressed with the Single Malt team and all the hard work they put in to making this year’s Upfronts such a huge success”

5 More Magento Solution Specialists for Nublue

Lancaster-based Magento ecommerce experts Nublue continue to invest in upskilling its workforce with 5 more team members gaining prestigious Magento 2 certifications. The north west based agency continues its programme of investment with more staff achieving the Magento 2 Certified Solution Specialist qualification, confirming the deep understanding and experience needed to become an expert user of the latest version of the Magento ecommerce platform.

The most recent team members to become Magento 2 Certified Solution Specialists come from several different areas of the company, including development, quality assurance and testing, even the Managing Director: *Michael Ashworth, Andrew Bailey, Nigel Croston, Helen Turner and Sam Butler-Thompson. Preparation for the certification was rigorous, with study groups working towards the exam for up to 3 months.

Managing Director Michael Ashworth said: “I’m delighted to have so many of our team gain Magento 2 certifications. The world of ecommerce is constantly evolving and it’s crucial to equip our staff with the training and skills needed to continue to work effectively and proactively with our clients.” He also revealed several more team members will take the exam this summer. These certifications are part of Nublue’s ongoing dedication to ensuring all its staff are experts in their individual fields. The last year has seen other staff achieve LPI-e accreditations (a Linux hosting accreditation), email marketing partner certification with Dotmailer and AAT Foundation level 2 in Accounting.

Having worked with Magento since its initial release in 2008, Nublue continues to evolve and refine its craft and infrastructure with each iteration and became Magento Professional Solutions Partner earlier this year. Magento is one of the world’s leading providers of cloud commerce innovation to over 260,000 merchants and brands worldwide.