• Bootcamp launched

    North East business support organisation, Generator, is setting up an 8-week digital bootcamp.

    It’s hoping that the Newcastle-based programme will help the digital skills shortage and bring the sector together.

    Practical projects will be delivered by hedgehog lab, Orange Bus and Gospelware amongst others.

    “Whether you are a creative digital agency or a non-digital business with a digital team, and you’ve just taken on a new starter who needs to be brought up to speed, we can help,” said Emma Whitenstall, Generator’s business support programme manager.

    “The programme will be delivered by the best creative digital professionals from the region to create an industry ready workforce.”

    It will include workshops and networking events, taking place once a week over the 8 week period.

    “Generator’s Digital Bootcamp will provide those looking to enter the industry with essential insights into the workings of an agile digital business,” added hedgehog lab’s chief design officer, Ray Clarke.

    “This is crucially important since companies such as our own operate in completely different ways to larger firms in traditional industries. hedgehog lab is committed to boosting skills in the North East tech sector and is delighted to be involved in this forward-thinking initiative.”

    As featured here. 

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  • Towards a North East Digital Strategy

    Having read the Government’s Digital Strategy, we at Digital Union / Generator join a wide range of our colleagues and peers in the Tech sector welcoming the strategy and the work that will be done to implement it.

    It comes as no surprise that the UK Government point towards flourishing eco systems of tech businesses. It is huge that the Government will now place coding skills within the centre of the curriculum and encourage digital literacy in adults in the same way as language and numeracy. It is also vital to point out and support the need for those outside the tech industries to look towards it for solutions to make them more efficient and indeed productive.

    The strategy highlights Tech North’s role to assist the growth in the 7 cities which include Newcastle and Sunderland and it’s always great to be included and recognised as a place of importance. The digital business of the Northern Powerhouse contribute £9.9 Billion in GVA to the UK economy while the North East’s contribution to this increased by 14.9% in 2015. Typically in the North, Manchester is identified as the biggest cluster outside of the South East.

    The digital strategy also goes on to state that the Government will work with Tech City and other partners across the country to ensure the learning and best practice from these programmes are shared and reapplied to develop the tech ecosystem across the UK.

    But does anywhere in the North East really feature in their thinking?

    Last year as part of the Northern Powerhouse initiative the Government announced awards of £4 million to Manchester, Sheffield and Leeds, specifically to develop Tech Hubs but not to either city in the NELEP region. This may be because of the treasury award made to the National Institute for Smart Data Innovation (NISDI) to be built on Newcastle Science City and of course we have Sunderland Software City home to a Digital Catapult but what about Newcastle Gateshead, but despite the great work one will do and the other does, are they really Tech Hubs?

    To compete on even a UK level, we need to focus on a Regional Digital Tech Strategy that puts Tech and Innovation Hubs at the heart of it. The establishment of these will ensure that we can truly fulfil the Government’s Digital Strategies across the region. They will become home for skills strategies, cross sector innovation involving the business and education sector and will be where the tech sector itself, can seek support for business growth and idea generation.

    We have seen some welcome efforts towards a strategy within the recent Auxin report and NGI appointing a Head of Digital Strategy, followed by a recent presentation at Newcastle’s Mansion house outlining what needs to be done in Newcastle. In tandem, there have been initial meetings of a Digital Alliance containing representatives of Generator / Digital Union, Dynamo and Sunderland Software City to discuss priority sub sectors and no doubt, these will be reflected in the NELEP’s Strategic Economic Plan refresh, published this Friday (10th March) which will also contain nods to the need for physical buildings and hubs. All of this is welcome but somewhat piece meal, nothing really points to a strategy towards supporting and building the tech sector here in the North East. Will the Councils and LEP really fight to secure the funding needed to ensure the Tech and Innovation Hubs come to fruition?

    Now is the time that we knit it all together, form one strategy that works for us all, that continues in the work to make sure we are on the map as a leader in UK tech, ensures we capitalise on our strengths and have the physical infrastructure of tech and innovation hubs that compliment NISDI, followed with the conviction to fight for funds to deliver. We are already being left behind and if we don’t act now, we will be bringing up the rear from even farther away.

    As the Auxin report rightly said ‘Carpe Digital’.

    Jim Mawdsley


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  • Vacancy: Networks Manager

    Salary: £28,000
    Hours: 35 hours per week

    Closing date for applications: Friday 10th February 2017, 5.00pm

    Creative development agency, Generator is looking for an outstanding, well-connected individual to take responsibility for Digital Union, the creative and digital business regional membership network we recently took-over and re-launched. Further information on Digital Union is attached.

    You will be responsible for growing subscriptions for the Digital Union membership and should demonstrate direct experience of developing similar networks or subscription-based models. We are looking for someone who is hard working, target-driven and creative themselves – fundamental is an appreciation of the unique characteristics most businesses and individuals working in this exciting sector exhibit.

    Generator’s CEO, Jim Mawdsley, has assembled a new Digital Union advisory board, and you will be responsible for maintaining this board and sub groups as well as being guided by them and linking their collective expertise to the network businesses.

    Digital Union is also firmly bolted into Generator’s new business support project (information attached) that will run up until December 2018 – you will work alongside the Business Support Programme Manager in ensuring strong take-up from the digital business contingent, linking talent, entrepreneurs and business to the opportunities available at Generator and through its partner’s network.

    We are looking for someone that actively enjoys developing and cultivating relationships with people, businesses and organisations – engagement and follow-up are going to be key aspects of this role. Project and/or account management experience will be useful and Generator would be interested in hearing from candidates who have business development experience and ideally events experience.

    We are looking for someone that can ‘join-the-dots’ between all the individuals, entrepreneurs, businesses and organisations working in the North East’s growing creative and digital sector which you will be passionate about and committed to.

    This post is part-funded by England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020.

    To apply

    Please send your CV and a covering letter detailing how you meet the Job Description no later than 10th February at 5.00pm to jo@generator.org.uk

    If you have specific questions pertaining to this role, please contact jim@generator.org.uk

    Further information

    Job Description for the Networks Manager
    Digital Union summary document
    Digital Futures summary

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  • Tech North Northern Voices

    Tech North has just announced Northern Voices, a six-month programme to help address the diversity challenge in tech/digital. The first course is designed specifically for women, and non-binary people who do not identify as men, to address the gender imbalance at conferences and in media appearances, in turn making digital jobs a more attractive career for all.

    As part of the programme, Tech North has asked Sandy Lindsay MBE of Tangerine PR and Penny Haslam, an award-winning BBC Radio 5 Live journalist, to deliver free media and public speaker training for 20 women with limited public exposure from across the North.

    They will then spend six months booking them for on-stage appearances talking about anything from their expertise to their experiences getting a job in the industry.

    Tech North is looking for people who should be sharing their stories with younger women, their peers, the UK business community – perhaps, even, the rest of the world.

    They welcome applications from groups that are under represented in UK tech circles, including ethnic minority and disabled applicants, those who have experienced socio-economic disadvantage and people who identify as LGBTIQ.

    All you need to do to be considered is fill out this 5-minute form by Wednesday 8th February and make sure you are available at the most convenient venue on either:

    2nd March in Leeds
    3rd March in Newcastle
    6th March in Manchester

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  • Generator Vacancy

    Business Support Programme Manager

    Generator, is looking for an outstanding individual to develop and implement its creative and digital business support programme.

    Salary: £23,000
    Hours: Full-time (35 hours per week)
    Job Status: Fixed-term (2 years)

    This is a unique opportunity for a commercially minded, output-driven individual with strong contacts within the regional and national creative and digital industries; you will be responsible for the development and implementation of the Digital Futures programme that provides specialist business support for creative and digital SMEs through an integrated programme of activity covering the whole of the North East Local Enterprise Area.

    The position will be based at the Generator office in Newcastle upon Tyne.

    Closing date for applications: Friday 25th November 2016, 5.00pm

    To find out more and to apply click here.

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  • Twickets Investment Opportunity

    As the ticket touting saga trundles on with revelations of Take That and Phil Collins comeback shows causing a StubHub sensation, Twickets, the face-value ticket resale platform, is to undertake a fundraising campaign to enable the business to build and expand internationally.

    Twickets, one of the many touted solutions to the problem of scalping is already the prefered choice of such artists as Adele, Mumford and Sons and One Direction.

    In the UK Twickets has seen nearly half a million users either download the app, sign up to its web site or follow on social media since it launched.

    Twickets’ founding board of investors consists of Tony Wadsworth CBE, Harry Magee and Richard Griffiths (Modest! Management), Ian McAndrew (Wildlife Entertainment), Steve Parish(Co-owner, Crystal Palace FC), as well as Chrysalis Records Co-founder Chris Wright CBE who will lead the  private investment round, while other original backers and further significant investors will be announced soon.

    Wright said: “Online ticket touting is damaging to the industry and deeply affects loyal groups of fans who are ripped-off and left empty handed.  In the last eighteen months, Twickets has been steadfastly innovating across the business to make face value resale a convenient solution for fans, so I’m very happy for the opportunity to reinvest”.

    Twickets CEO Richard Davies added: “With significant support from the entertainment industry and our loyal followers, we will continue to grow and develop the platform, making it easier and more efficient for fans to resell tickets. We have been extremely encouraged by the level of interest that we’ve received from industry for this round so far, and now look forward to opening up the opportunity to our own community”.

    With the funding round currently held in private mode, potential investors should direct all enquiries to Richard Davies at Richard@twickets.co.uk.

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  • EU Copyright Request

    The Government is calling for UK stakeholders’ from the music, publishing and entertainment industry, for their views on draft legislation to modernise the European copyright framework “to ensure that it delivers the best outcomes for all those affected by the measures”.

    The draft proposals were unveiled on September 14 at the European Commission’s annual State of the Union address, delivered by EC President Jean-Claude Juncker in Strasbourg.

    Under the draft legislation video sharing platforms will be obliged to improve their automatic “content recognition technologies” (like YouTube’s Content ID) that will both impact on “notice-and-take-down” procedures and lead to more transparent reporting structures, enabling rights holders to better identify when their works are played and how often.

    A statement on the IPO website stated: “We would welcome your views on the costs and benefits of these proposals and suggestions for how the language of the proposed legislation can be improved”.

    At the unveiling Junker commented: “I want journalists, publishers and authors to be paid fairly for their work, whether it is made in studios or living rooms, whether it is disseminated offline or online, whether it is published via a copying machine or commercially hyperlinked on the web”.

    However Pierre Mossiat, President of the Independent Music Publishers Forum (IMPF), was among the critics who commented that reforms didn’t go far enough in addressing the “value gap” between online music consumption and levels of remuneration paid to artists and rights holders, stating: “Without clear regulatory guidance, the interests of big business will continue to jeopardise the livelihoods of songwriters all around Europe”.

    Stakeholders and interested parties should send their responses (supported by “open and transparent” evidence) by December 6th to copyright.policy@ipo.gov.uk.

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  • Creative Industries Fed: Brexit Report

    The Creative Industries Federation has published its Brexit report stating that the UK should retain tariff free access to the EU market and continue to provide easy access to skills and talent from EU and non-EU countries.

    Highlighting the importance of the creative industries to the UK’s economy, the report said: “Creative exports including books, film, television and film, from Adele to Harry Potter and Downton Abbey to Sherlock, are the UK’s calling card to the world. They are valuable in their own right, but also promote the broader trading interests of UK plc as a symbol of the country’s imagination, innovation and diversity”.

    The report suggested that talent and skills are “fundamental” to the UK’s creative success and that “It is vital we continue to cultivate our talent as well as to attract the brightest around the world”.

    It stressed the importance of maintaining the strength of the intellectual property regime in the UK and said the Government should make the strong protection of IP rights a red line in future bilateral trade agreements.

    It also warned against restricting freedom of movement and said the Government should confirm “as a matter of priority” that EU nationals currently working in the UK will be able to remain.

    To read the report go here.

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  • There’s a palpable excitement in the air…

    …now is the time to exploit it!

    It’s out… After a long wait and much anticipation ‘Growing the Digital Technology Sector’ produced by Auxin Associates for Newcastle and Gateshead Councils had its first official airing at the Toffee Factory first thing this morning (Tuesday 11th October).

    Growing the Digital Technology Sector

    Growing the Digital Technology Sector report  launch event

    For us at Digital Union / Generator the report is not ground breaking. It calls for all the things that we have learned are important for the sector we work with, both as it exists now and for the one that will have grown rapidly in the future. However, it does capture the excitement and the vibrancy we are currently enjoying from businesses at all levels and delivers a call to arms for all parties to pull together to give us a real chance for the North East to realise the potential to become a leading region in Digital.

    But this will only happen if we work together and time and time again the report makes this point. We must be bold, brash even, and seize this as another opportunity to build on what we have with the Councils supporting, not leading. And what can they really do? Yes we need new and refurbished buildings that are designed and equipped specifically to encourage the interaction of businesses, yes we all know that we have a skills shortage, lack of investment and (until the recent launch of #ThisIsMINE) a brand we can all get behind, but we won’t all achieve what we are more than capable of unless we truly collaborate.



    Those out there who are fully engaged with Digital Union or have been observing our progress from the side lines will know that we are beginning to have meaningful dialogue with a number of educational establishments and this is progressing simply as we are developing relationships based on a ‘two-way street’ approach. We know that both HE and FE could be more effective at producing industry-ready graduates but rather than moan about it we are asking what we can do to inform their course content.

    This is just one example of collaboration that is already showing potential and the councils can play a strong role in getting the universities on board to help provide the workforce the sector desperately needs to ensure it goes from strength to strength.

    The report makes a number of recommendations that I’m sure the Councils will take very seriously and they do know that there is real opportunity for economic growth here despite the ‘B’ word, but the one thing they should take from this is to draw on all their partners and the business community to enable the growth with the right encouragement.

    If we are to address the problems and turn them all into opportunities the Council can play a key role in bringing all the parties together in the manner the report calls for. It may not be too difficult to do. We already have productive dialogue with Campus North, Ignite, Dynamo, Sunderland Software City and the North East LEP as well as education and media partners.

    The Councils’ and LEP’s job here is to enable and support and it should be left to the businesses through their networks and organisations to shape the landscape. If we need one place, one group, a truly collaborative offer which is arrived at following mature decision making and alignment of service we need everyone to play a part, be productive, find solutions and offer something up in true partnership.

    The Councils now need to set the priorities to help achieve all the recommendations the report makes, but as investors, facilitators and supporters. To drive the sector’s significant growth there is a need for people to get over themselves and get involved for the greater good.

    Jim Mawdsley, CEO, Generator

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  • Shining the Spotlight on the NE’s Creative Digital Sector: Digital Union Media Pack

    Digital Union has launched an industry-led campaign brand: #ThisIsMINE (Made in the North East), with the aim of uniting the Creative Digital industry’s many small companies to show off the collective strength of their work.

    The campaign was launched at an event at the Wylam Brewery in Newcastle which brought together a raft of the region’s independent creative digital thinkers with representatives of the regional and national media to discuss the issues surrounding the industry in a move to put the sector firmly on the international map.

    In an evening designed to motivate, inspire and demonstrate how the industry can raise its game even further and compete with other UK creative powerhouses on a global stage, the event showcased some of some of the North East’s high-growth digital businesses to the panel of journalists.

    Digital Union encourages its members and the wider Creative Digital sector to stamp their work with the #ThisIsMINE brand as a badge of pride. Download the Digital Union Media Pack & #ThisIsMine campaign brand guidelines here.


    BQ’s Suzy Jackson, Tech North’s Martin Bryant, BDaily’s Jamie Hardesty, Generator CEO Jim Mawdsley, the Financial Times’ Chris Tighe, the Journal’s Graeme Whitfield alongside Kari Owers of OPR and Ben Quigley CEO of Everything Different.

    The guest journalists – including Journal business editor Graeme Whitfield, Chris Tighe of the Financial Times and Tech North‘s Martin Bryant – provided an insight into how creative firms can crack the code of having their voices heard in the media.

    In a motivational keynote speech delivered at Shining The Spotlight, Generator CEO Jim Mawdsley said: “We are sick and tired of hearing about Manchester and other regions. Of course they are good at shouting about themselves but a lot of it is smoke and mirrors in my view.


    “Most of their decent companies are corporate owned and, while there is nothing wrong with that, we now need to realise that this region is fiercely independent.

    “As a sector, we are in charge of our own destiny and possess much more creative flair than other regions. It is time for the North East creative digital community to come of age. We need to shine the spotlight on all of the amazing work that is being produced here. We need the national media to know what we’re doing and that the North East is not only a hot bed for creative digital talent but also an amazing collaborative and dynamic cluster”.

    Digital Union has now established a media pipeline for its members, with all encouraged to continue to feed through their success stories, growth announcements, staff developments and contract wins to Eleanor Forsyth: eleanor@generator.org.uk. As well as this online resource, future editions of the printed media pack will be published quarterly.

    Download the Digital Union Media Pack & #ThisIsMine brand guide lines here.



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