startup
The fourth day of Newcastle Startup Week saw a jam-packed roster of speakers from around the world give a series of talks in the centre of the city.
Jane Imrie

Day four of Newcastle Startup Week: Looking forward and outward with Scaleup Summit

The fourth day of Newcastle Startup Week saw a jam-packed roster of speakers from around the world give talks at Newcastle University’s central Urban Sciences Building in the 24-acre hybrid city quarter Newcastle Helix.

Integrating Newcastle Startup Week with Scaleup Summit, an event for growing businesses that achieved success as an independent single-day venture in 2017, day four showcased a range of scaleup solutions and success stories from the region and beyond.

As well as examining local, regional and national scaling up, the event also focused on international opportunities for business growth. With Brexit still hanging over the UK, the benefit of exploring what the wider world has to offer is becoming increasingly apparently to businesses of all sizes and levels.

Below are just a couple of the highlights from day four of Newcastle Startup Week.

Nordics and The North East - Sophia Stovall and Hakon Junge

Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums head of development Sophia Stovall and Hakon Junge, brand manager of fintech startup Pleo, came together to share their insights with the audience, and highlight the benefits of connecting with Scandinavia for business growth.

Danish natives Sophia and Hakon began by looking back on historic partnerships between the North East region and Nordic countries, before moving onto business opportunities and advice.

Sophia, who is “fascinated with the link between the North East and Scandinavia, discussed the Vikings’ heritage of “getting out and about”, as well as both areas having links to shipbuilding and the Industrial Revolution.

She talked about when Danish sailors came over to Newcastle during the Second World War to join them as they sailed back out, and said that the North East’s Beamish open air museum was in fact based on a Danish model and was borne from a knowledge exchange between the two countries.

Comparing the similarities between Nordic countries and the North East, Sophia explained that both areas embody the concept of ‘janteloven’ - meaning everyone on the same playing field, and the removal of an inflated sense of self worth. She added that “we both have a natural curiosity which makes us powerful collaborators.

Hakon stated that as with Scandinavia, in the North East “business is personal”, and stressed the importance of “investing in relationships” in both places.

Speaking about what makes the region such appealing ‘business ecosystem’ to Scandinavans, Hakon said that there was a “very approachable sense of community”, particularly compared with somewhere like London.

Their advice for pursuing opportunities in Nordic countries? “Use LinkedIn…Danes and ‘Scandis’ love LinkedIn”. Hakon advocated regional businesses attending the Copenhagen Tech Festival, saying “Scandinavians really do want to work with the region.”

Opportunities In Canada - Nadine Storey

Senior investment officer and trade commissioner Nadine Storey works to connect UK businesses to her homeland of Canada, and showcased what the country has to offer North East businesses.

She explained that in addition to glacial lakes, ice hockey and maple syrup, Canada “has a long history of tech”, being involved in the development of space shuttles for NASA as well as being the home of the Blackberry.

After explaining the country’s geography - 40 times the size of the UK with 10 provinces and three territories - and its diverse multilingual population, Nadine went on to discuss the six key benefits that Canada has to offer British entrepreneurs and businesses.

  1. “Sound economic fundamentals“. Nadine explained that the country’s economy had been stable even during the 2008 banking crisis, and was forecast to remain so.
  2. “Talented labour force“. According to Nadine, Canada has the highest level of education in OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries.
  3. “Progressive immigration policies“. Overseas students enrolled in a Canadian university “automatically get a three-year post-study work permit”, Nadine said, as well as highlighting the country’s ‘Global Talent Stream’ programme.
  4. “Research and development incentives“. According to Nadine, companies in Canada are eligible for credit rate incentives, and nonprofit organisation MITAC “will cover 50 per cent of a salary for research professionals”.
  5. “Gateway to global markets“. Nadine explained that Canada has “a lot” of free trade agreements and “preferential access to 51 countries”, and said that 16 of its cities are within a 90-minute drive to the US border.
  6. “Government support“. Nadine emphasised that the Canadian government offer support for innovation, one such scheme has five ‘superclusters’ covering support in digital tech, protein industries, advanced manufacturing, AI and ocean.

Nadine focused on some of the key sectors within Canada that offer opportunities to UK businesses. She discussed how the country was becoming a hub for videogame, animation and VFX industries, with companies like Ubisoft and EA Sports having bases there.

She also explained how Canadian financial and professional services were undergoing a regulatory and tech transformation similar to the UK and how this offers opportunities.

On the country’s infrastructure, Nadine said that the federal government have invested $180bn dollars into it, and that Canada is “keen to have UK expertise, specifically rail”.

With over 50 per cent of energy coming from hydropower in the country, cleantech offers a range of opportunities across the 10 provinces according to Nadine, as they individually manage their energy.

Nadine spoke about life sciences as a booming industry in Canada, with healthcare companies like AstraZeneca and GSK already carrying out clinical trials there.

“Canadians want to work with the UK” Nadine concluded, adding that Canada can “a stepping stone into the US” and that the shared similarities could be mutually beneficial for businesses looking to grow.

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