Go East young man!
It is very easy (and lazy) to assume the UK tech innovation only happens in certain areas – Cambridge, the M4 Corridor, Bath/Bristol and Silicon Roundabout/Tech City. While these have a certain scale (and very good PR), in a global, borderless and online economy innovation really can come from anywhere.
I was reminded of this at last week’s Ipswich Startup Masterclass event, which aimed to help encourage people with ideas or early stage companies to develop and grow. I admit some bias I was involved in promoting the event, but what impressed me was not just the turnout (over 50 people of all ages) but the range of ideas and experiences they had. Anyone who saw Suffolk as a sleepy backwater would have been incredibly surprised by the diversity and energy that was on show.
The event was the first in an ongoing programme that in turn is part of a series of masterclasses that span East Anglia. Entitled Survival Stories from the Startup Jungle, it featured four speakers – Jamie Riddell, Harry Berry, Simon Grice and Kevin Gooding, who had been involved in creating or funding innovative startups based in Suffolk. And one of the questions they tackled was about creating credibility when you come from a county better known for agriculture and tourism than innovation. Have the right ideas, show you understand your customer’s needs and make sure your idea has a compelling, instantaneous, value proposition are all ways to circumvent this potential credibility gap. As indeed are gatherings such as the Masterclasses (and the excellent events run by Suffolk Digital), which add physical networking to any links made online. Details of the next Startup Masterclass events (in Cambridge and Norwich as well as Ipswich), are available online from www.startupmasterclass.co.uk, where you can also book tickets – well worth a look for anyone involved in innovation in the East.