Posted 7 April, 2017 OBI BLOG
The 100 fastest growing tech companies in the north of England generated close to £2bn revenue in 2016. Think about that for a moment – it’s an impressive figure.
For all the noise around improving advanced manufacturing, and building the service sector, as important as those things are, it’s clear to us here at OBI that we’re living in the digital world now – tech is a massively important sector for the north, for Manchester, and for OBI.
More and more, we’re working with companies, some of them well-established, some relative newcomers, who are making waves in the digital economy.
We’re not a huge business, and we have to choose the things we do carefully. But one thing we were very firm in our commitment to this year was the Northern Tech Awards organised by GP Bullhound, the technology investment bank.
Each year GP Bullhound brings together the stars of the northern tech community to recognise and celebrate the growth of the most innovative businesses around, highlighting some of the region’s top success stories.
It’s a blue chip awards programme with some seriously weighty players involved – the judges for 2017 included the likes of Charles Sharland, founder of AppSense, Mark Sebba, the former boss of Net-a-porter and Richard Flint of Sky Betting and Gaming.
As you’d expect, there were some exciting names among the winners, including Interact from Altrincham, and some Manchester businesses – customer reward business Airtime Rewards, social enterprise Reason Digital, and a well-known name in software developer Godel Technologies.
The overall Judges’ Award went to the Hut Group, great recognition for a business that has gone from strength to strength. For anyone looking for pointers as to particular areas of strength, 31 software companies made the top 100, 19 of these in the top 50. There had been just 12 in 2016.
These awards, as GP Bullhound say, are about far more than picking up a trophy. Across the sector, there is confidence building that businesses from this part of the world can make a serious impact on the world. And as that confidence builds, the more that people want to work with them.
At property events, we hear a lot about the elements that enable companies to grow, and the factors are wide-ranging – access to funding, access to the right people, the right ecosystem, international connectivity. What’s emerging to our minds is that these factors are largely moving in the right direction for digital businesses in the region.
As Hugh Campbell, managing partner of GP Bullhound, says: “After years of huge potential, northern tech companies now command the valuations and deals worthy of international recognition. The tech sector in the north is more robust than ever and high profile transactions will continue establishing the region’s reputation as a home to profitable tech companies, a real depth of talent and genuine software innovation.”
This is a sector where exciting things are happening – and it’s a sector we’re keen to do more and more work with.