Phil Jackman, Monday 13th January
This month’s Dynamo advisory board was held at NBS in The Old Post Office opposite St Nicholas’ Cathedral in Newcastle. Not to be confused with the National Blood Service or Newcastle Building Society, Newcastle Building Specification is an integrated global platform for everyone involved in the design, supply and construction of the built environment.
Dynamo holds the meetings in different places every month, not only to give a platform to the wide variety of tech firms that operate across our region but also to keep the meetings from getting stale. This was a great choice of venue as the theme for the meeting was reinvention, the wonderful Old Post Office has certainly been given a new lease of life while the chime of the bells from the cathedral provided timely reminders to stick to the agenda.
2019 has been another good year for Dynamo, ending with a small surplus allowing it to continue to develop further yet Dynamo is changing. Like all organisations it needs to take time out to reflect on where it has come from and where it is going and there has been a lot of that over the Christmas break.
Charlie and Andrew brought the group up to speed with the thinking around the key challenges of collaboration, innovation, skills and noise. An emerging document has been created and will be shared. This will eventually form the basis of our strategic plans for the next three years. Dynamo needs to get the balance right between supporting its existing members and attracting new members, after all the primary aim must be sustainability, we want to continue supporting the region’s tech sector for many years to come.
The meeting was also a chance to say goodbye to Anne who has given excellent service to Dynamo over the last three years, in particular around building the Digital Constriction cluster. She has moved onto pastures new and everyone thanked her and wished her well.
The growth of clusters is a key part of Dynamo’s growth strategy and updates from four of the clusters were given at the meeting
Digital entertainment held two innovation events at the back end of last year at Alnwick Garden and the Discovery museum. The next event will be in the spring, at Northern Stage, and will look at the pain points they have in their production process. The cluster is also working with Proto in Gateshead on a collaborative hub for digital entertainment students. Laura also told us about the first Service Delivery Centres event to be held at BT Gosforth with the theme of automation. Those lucky enough to have a ticket (It is sold out) can look forward to hearing speakers from Accenture, BT, Proctor and Gamble and the Institute of Coding.
I spoke about the cyber security cluster and while December was a quiet month, it gave us a fair bit of time for planning. The group has agreed a business plan and events calendar for next year, with events throughout the year. There are already ten events lined up for #CyberFest 2020 in September and the cluster is aiming to host an event specifically for the cyber security companies in the region in the spring. The other initiatives, the CYberNorth wen platform and ORCANE, an incubation and innovation centre are progressing nicely with meetings planned with Plexal, which runs the London equivalent and DCMS planned for early 2020.
Dawn gave us an update on activity around the Fintech cluster. Last year’s events were well supported and generated a lot of local and national noise. Further events are planned for 2020 and Dawn outlined plans for Dynamo’s collaboration with the other regional tech clusters who are coming together under the umbrella of the Newcastle Digital Festival in May. The sector hopes to gather sufficient critical mass to host a “Fintech frenzy” fringe event and a list of companies is already being drawn up. Dawn had also met with local MP and shadow minister for Industrial Strategy, Science and Innovation Chi Onwurah who offered her support for any lobbying or sectoral sticking points, and said she was pleased to hear that the Bank of England have committed to supporting the sector by hosting round table discussion.
Finally, let’s not forget that we had a visit by the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care. The region is host to one of the truly national parts of the NHS, with the NHSBSA prescription data, NHS Jobs, Electronic Staff Record staff record system and NHS pensions all located here. Needless to say, Matt Hancock was very impressed by what he saw and we look forward to more funding coming our way.
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