Like many across the region it comes as a shock and a hint of sadness to hear news of the closure of Newcastle’s Campus North co-working space. However, I also feel it’s a time for celebration of the achievements of Campus North and what it has done for Newcastle start-ups and for the region.
In many ways Campus North was the trailblazer for the modern day tech start-up community in Newcastle. It demonstrated that if you create the right infrastructure and combine this with an innovative and collaborative culture, then success follows.
I have massive respect for the founders and the team behind Campus North, I applaud what you have done for start-ups in Newcastle and I wish you all the very best with your new ventures.
Whilst this news marks the end of Campus North this isn’t where the story ends for Newcastle’s tech start-up community. It’s great to see more collaborative workspaces emerging across the city and many more are planned across the North East region.
The creation of these new sustainable workspaces are essential to underpin the continued growth of the North East tech and digital sector, and at the same time a number of initiatives are in flight to accelerate the growth and prosperity of the sector across the region.
Organisations such as Dynamo North East, Sunderland Software City and Digital Union are bringing commercial organisations together, and in the case of Dynamo North East, the Private Sector, Public Sector and Education, to collaborate on a number of exciting initiatives that will ultimately benefit many organisations across the region.
The North East LEP has a renewed focus not least on creating more scale-up businesses, and there’s good news around the release of £120m capital investment in the shape of:
- The Development Capital Fund, managed by Maven Capital Partners, which will provide a range of funding packages up to £2m for established SMEs who are looking for capital to help them unlock their growth potential;
- The Venture Fund, run by Mercia Fund Managers, which can invest up to £1m at any stage in the business life cycle of firms engaged in innovation or developing disruptive business models;
- The Growth Capital Fund, to be managed by NEL Fund Managers, which aims to back businesses with investments of up to £500,000 in order to accelerate growth potential;
- The Small Loan Fund, also managed by NEL, which can support a wide variety of growth plans, typically advancing loans of between £10,000 and £50,000;
- The Innovation Fund, run by Northstar Ventures, which will focus on businesses with strong management teams with scalable opportunities, investing up to £500,000 either in loans or equity.
The region has a number of inward investment organisations that are working hard to get businesses to start, move and grow their companies here in the North East, and Newcastle is now home to a number of excellent conferences such as Think Digital and Newcastle Startup Week that attract many attendees from outside the region.
In addition to all of this the local authorities across the region are working hard behind the scenes to implement initiatives that support the regional tech and digital sector for businesses of all size, whilst ensuring effective execution of the industrial strategy “Building a Britain fit for the future” and promoting the North East as the number one destination for start-up, scale-up and enterprise companies.
I can only see massive opportunity for the North East’s tech and digital sector and when we have the private sector, public sector, education, local authorities, and investment agencies fully aligned around a highly ambitious tech and digital agenda then the North East region will be unstoppable.