A busy eighteen months for Souter Consulting #1: Dynamo North East

by Justin Souter on September 7, 2015

Welcome back

Although this blog has been asleep for a while, I’ve been flat-out super busy.

I’m catching up by way of a few posts about:

  1. Dynamo North East
  2. Lean Startup workshops I’ve run
  3. Lean Innovation

It’s been a busy eighteen months!

Dynamo North East – – backstory & defining the North East IT economy

About two years ago, I remember being invited to a summer’s evening meetup at the Clocktower Café at Hoults Yard to chat about enterprise IT.

There I met Mike O’Brien of Opencast Software, and networked with other local IT players.

Looking for a new opportunity in early Spring 2014, I took up a research project for Charlie Hoult to “define the North East IT economy”.

My research – and with feedback from Charlie – is something I’m pretty proud of; you can read it here where I / we blog often.

Dynamo North East – making it official

This segway’ed into a more formal arrangement for Dynamo North East – which was a collaboration between Bob Paton of Accenture and Charlie Hoult, with assistance from Anthony McMenzie.

My first event was a social event at Bede Gaming, at their offices in Gosforth.

My research underpinned our Dynamo 14 conference (Lanyrd) – the highlight of which was the contrast between the arrival of attendees “so, what is Dynamo?” and the evolution that day to “I had no idea there was so much amazing stuff going on here”

In August 2014 I incorporated Dynamo as a Community Interest Company limited by Guarantee, and having been running matters day-to-day, as a Director at Companies House, with Charlie as hands-on Executive Chairman and fellow Director.

Dynamo – what it is becoming

Activities

So, Dynamo is a bootstrapped social enterprise which runs a Membership scheme (with no public funding as yet), and has key activities:

  1. Be a focal point for regional IT growth
  2. Promote our region externally
  3. Develop skills and education
  4. Support regional research and development (aka data gathering about the North East IT economy)
  5. Cybersecurity
  6. Dynamo Build – digital construction

Team

  1. Events – Beacon House, Sarah and Catherine do a fabulous job for us
  2. Finance – Charles Hardy of eFM and Andrea Forster of Opencast
  3. Day to day – former members Joanna and Pamela; now Steven, and myself as team captain

Board

Some key IT leaders such as Charlie Hoult; Bob Paton (formerly Vice Chair; now interim Chief Exec of the North East LEP alongside his continuing role at Accenture); Mike O’Brien; Paul Watson of Newcastle University; Alastair Irons of Sunderland Uni; Craig Eblett of DWP, John Hunt of Orchard Software; Giselle Stewart of Ubisoft, Stuart Lynn of Sage; Anthony McMenzie of Five Circles, Janet Ross of BT, Hannah Rudman [now back in Edinburgh], Rebecca Strachan of Northumbria Uni; Alan English of Wherewithal Consulting; Jen Hartley of Invest Newcastle; Lindsay Phillips of HP; Neil Hemming of SAP; Phil Jackman of Durham County Council; and Simon Roberson of BT [in no particular order].

Membership

With the help of Beacon House, we set up our Membership scheme and launched in February this year.

At last count we’d reached 92, with others joining on a regular basis – the more we have, the more we can add value, and the more activities we can roll-out and the more momentum we can generate (and sustain).

Stakeholders

LEPs – both North East and TVU, Universities, Colleges, Business support organisations, Schools, careers services, think tanks (e.g. featuring in the ‘Silicon Cities’ report from Policy Exchange), parents – the list goes on.

Successes

  • Making a difference – brining the North East IT economy out of stealth mode, and making our Region somewhere potential employees will want to stay in, and move to
  • Reputation and momentum – arguably we have “problem / solution fit” in that there are plenty of ways we can add value
  • Behind the scenes – what are the dots, and then how do we join them up
  • North East Futures UTC – leading the proposer group for this new school which will open in September 2017
  • Dynamo Apprentice Hubs
  • “Get into IT” careers event

A key target is “More and better jobs” as set out in the North East LEP Strategic Economic Plan.

Events

We’ve had some brilliant feedback about our high profile and professional events:

Northern Institute for Technology and Business Exchange

Our latest announcement was in June: “Dynamo to unveil bold £95m vision for Northern Institute for Technology and Business Exchange”.

We are now working with local partners to flesh out this vision – to make a difference, bring together academia and businesses / organisations to create value through innovation.

What’s next

We believe we’ve established a compelling case that proactive work to join together many working parts of the North East IT economy.

More info no doubt in future via the Dynamo website and / or Twitter.

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