Independent tech consultancy Opencast has unveiled its events programme for next month’s TechNExt festival – with a focus on the pain points facing government and private sector organisations alike, as well as challenges facing wider society.


The 2024 TechNExt Festival, happening from 17-21 June, celebrates the North East’s thriving technology sector – and for the second year running, Opencast is a proud headline sponsor of the festival, and is hosting a series of five curated events at its Newcastle HQ.


Opencast is hosting five TechNExt sessions, on Monday 17 and Tuesday 18 June, convening leading figures and partners from the regional and UK-wide tech sector, including:


  • Jack Hanson – Director, Department for Work & Pensions (DWP)
  • Tim Fieldsend – Head of Technology Engineering, Greggs
  • Joanne Todd – Chief Information Officer, St John Ambulance
  • Karl Hoods CBE – Group Chief Digital and Information Office, Department for Energy Security and Net Zero
  • Jacqui Leggetter – Head of Integration (Deputy Director), DWP Digital
  • Dr Murray Ellender – Founder and Chief Executive, eConsult
  • Andrew Besford – Non-Executive Director, Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust.


Opencast’s TechNExt events are free and open to join, both in person and online, with live streaming also available via Digital Leaders. See links below to register for each session. Food and refreshments will be served at all Opencast events, with networking opportunities before and after.


Welcoming this year’s Opencast TechNExt sessions, Chief Executive Tom Lawson said: “We’re excited to be supporting TechNExt as a headline sponsor for the second year running. After last year’s successful inaugural festival, this June’s TechNExt promises to be another huge week for the region.


“Opencast has been promoting the North East tech sector since we were founded back in 2012 – and we remain proud to still have our HQ in the North East even as we have grown to become a UK-wide business. We work hard to improve the lives of people living and working in the North East, as well as creating more than 300 new jobs for the region.


“We aim to make a difference to people in the North East including through the work we do with government departments like HM Revenue and Customs and the Department of Work and Pensions, which both have bases in the North East.”


Explaining the thinking behind Opencast’s 2024 TechNExt events programme, Tom said: “This year’s five HQ sessions focus on the pain points faced by the organisations in government and business that we work with, as well as the challenges faced by wider society. We hope that our 2024 events will once again be among the highlights of the TechNExt programme.”


Opencast continues to demonstrate its backing for the North East economy, including through its support for Dynamo North East and the Tech Talent Engine initiative, connecting job seekers with businesses and education providers. It is also supporting pupils aged nine to 13 with mentoring through TechNExt’s new Schools Challenge.


Opencast’s 2024 TechNExt sessions

 All sessions take place in person at Opencast’s Newcastle HQ at Hoults Yard, as well as online via Zoom link. Registration required to attend both in person and online.


Monday 17 June 11am-12pm

Skills in tech for impact: strategies for people and society

Our opening TechNExt session examines the skills challenges across industries, by examining how organisations are responding and growing their in-house capabilities. Our discussion will explore how organisations can better grow the skills of their people, and the impact of growing the potential of existing teams, as well as on wider society. Among our speakers are Tim Fieldsend, Head of Technology Engineering at Greggs, who joins Opencast’s Cate Kalson to share the experience of a North East business success story. Book to join in person or online.


Monday 17 June 2-3pm

Build versus buy – how new tech impacts decisions

This tech specialist panel explores the pros and cons of buying commercial off-the-shelf solutions or building from scratch – and how new technologies like AI will affect future decisions. Karl Hoods at the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero, Joanne Todd at St John Ambulance and Opencast’s Gordon Murray join the panel, with Opencast’s John Simmons, moderating. Book to join in person or online.


Tuesday 18 June 11am-12pm

Patient-centred care: making it a reality

This healthcare panel discussion sees innovators in digital health, healthcare providers and service designers discuss how a user-centred approach can make patient-centred care a reality. The panel includes Dr Murray Ellender at eConsult, Jamie Whysall, Principal and Head of Healthcare at Netcompany and Opencast’s Ute Schauberger. Andrew Besford from Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust moderates. Book to join in person or online.


Tuesday 18 June 2-3pm

Unlocking the power of data: solutions to deliver value

This solutions-focused panel discussion brings together leading figures from business and the public sector to share on-the-ground experience of how to unlock the power of data in a way that’s outcome-focused, agile and delivers value for business and people alike. Our panel includes Jacqui Leggetter from DWP Digital, Stuart Edmondson, Director at Bluesmith and Andy McMurray of Opencast. Opencast’s Lee Foster moderates. Book to attend in person or online.


Tuesday 18 June 4-5pm

Government digital leadership: a fireside chat

This fireside chat brings Jack Hanson, Director at the Department for Work and Pensions, together with Opencast’s Henry Rex to discuss the department’s strategy and how it navigates fast-moving changes in technology. The conversation offers the opportunity to hear how a major central government approaches its challenges and ensures that its outcomes are in line with the needs of the people who use public services. Book to attend in person or online.


Also at TechNExt 2024

As well as running our own festival events programme, Opencast is presenting a lightning talk and running a stand at the Tech Talent Live jobs fair at Hilton Gateshead on 19 June – and has a presence at the festival’s Main Stage Conference at Newcastle’s Crowne Plaza Hotel on 20 June. We’re also backing the TechNExt Schools Challenge for 9-13 year-olds with mentoring, with schools winners announced on 18 June. Find out more about the 2024 programme via the TechNExt website.

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