20 high potential technology companies from as far afield as Canada and Columbia are relocating to Gateshead to join a new accelerator programme, run by Ignite with support from Northstar Ventures.
Ignite has invested in more than 200 companies across the UK since launching in 2011, with North East success stories Moltin, SpecifiedBy and Leaf Grow amongst their alumni.
Each company joining the 3-month programme will receive £15,000 investment from the North East Innovation fund (managed by Northstar Ventures and supported by the European Regional Development Fund), office space and access to the cutting edge facilities at PROTO as well as coaching from the experienced Ignite team and its Entrepreneurs in Residence.
Founders include North East local Stephen Burns MC who is building on his experience as a decorated special forces veteran to build an online network helping forces personnel as they transition back into civilian life.
“I left Newcastle at the age of 16 to join the Royal Marines. To return to the North East some 20 years later with Wioh means the world to me. Wioh (World in our hands) has a mission to uplift and inspire. What better place to start than home! Being part of the Ignite programme is a massive step for us to achieving mission success.”
The rest of the cohort are tackling a range of issues from helping food banks better source and organise meals for those in need, to automating the secretarial tasks found in accountancy jobs.
This Ignite programme specifically helps entrepreneurs to develop their business idea, launch an MVP, get their first customers and then figure out what to do next. Building on the experience of previously helping portfolio companies raise tens of millions in investment from top tier angel investors and VCs it is hoped that this will be a launching pad for ambitious entrepreneurs to get to the next level.
The diverse group of founders will be showcasing their work later on in the year at PROTO’s event space. This pitching event will be open to the public and will highlight the successes of each company on the programme.
Cllr Malcom Brain, Cabinet Member for the Economy at Gateshead Council said: “We are thrilled to have the Ignite programme come to Gateshead for the first time. It’s recognition of the growing community of tech specialists and start-ups based here and our real strength in immersive technology. The team have a proven record in providing the right support and mentoring needed by tech start-ups. This, combined with access to the latest kit and facilities at PROTO will hopefully enable the businesses on the programme to create new and innovative products and services.”
Caitlin May from Northstar Ventures said, “We’re delighted to have been supporting Ignite’s programmes since they returned to the North East. We’ve been pleased with the quality and passion of the entrepreneurs we’ve met on the accelerators to date and are excited to watch the next cohort develop their ideas and businesses.”
Visit our dedicated Digital and Tech pages to find out more about locating a tech business to North East England