New conference explores county's tech future

By Tim Aldred

15 May 2024

FHundED Live

More than 100 businesses attended a new conference exploring the possibilities of the tech and digital sector in Lancashire.

FHundED Live, which took place at Ashton Memorial in Lancaster to coincide with Highest Point music festival, featured speakers were drawn from across the UK, including senior executives from VC finance and accelerators such as Baltic Ventures, Solid Bond, KPMG Acceleris, Par Equity, DSW Ventures, Turing Innovation Catalyst and Praetura.

Representatives from global businesses including IBM, Microsoft and Forsberg were in attendance, as were the founders of some of the region’s most high profile digital companies including Cloud Commerce, Bluefin, Mazuma Mobile, Chiptech, Patch, Fuuse, Zally and Code Galaxy.

The impressive private sector cohort was complemented by speakers from Lancaster University, the Lancashire Skills and Employment Hub, the Lancashire Digital Skills Partnership, Tech Lancaster and the WILD Network.

Built around four core themes: Raise, Scale, Future Tech and Exit Strategy, the event covered a range of topics through a blend of discussion panels, presentations and fireside chats.

Early stage investment, technology trends, and how to successfully build and sell a tech business, were some of the themes covered, as were cross-cutting issues such as skills, innovation and inclusion.

FHundED Live was produced by the technology consultancy Northern Reach on behalf of Lancashire Digital Hub. It was sponsored by Lancaster University, Barclays Eagle Labs and Lancashire County Council.

Dan Knowles, Northern Reach’s founder, said: "Last year we hosted the Lancashire Digital Summit in Williamson Park for the first time as a Highest Point fringe event.

"It was clear then that by combining the dynamism of Lancashire’s thriving tech sector with the atmosphere of a live music festival, we could create a different kind of business event which the whole of the North West could engage with. We also wanted to capitalise on Lancashire’s growing reputation as tech investment hotspot, which is why we partnered with the county’s FHundED VC programme.

“The overwhelmingly positive feedback we’ve had from delegates, speakers and sponsors confirms that by taking this approach we’ve significantly enhanced the event. Our decision to host it within the magnificent Ashton Memorial, which overlooked the Highest Point stage and festival village, also added massively to the audience experience.”

Kerry Harrison from the Lancashire Digital Skills Partnership said: “To have had so many high quality speakers in the room, not only from Lancashire but from across the UK, and from such a wide range of businesses, is a testament to how perceptions of Lancashire’s digital economy are changing.

"And while Lancashire developing a more active and visible finance and funding ecosystem is clearly a key part of that investor offer, it was also great that FHundED Live featured speakers who brought a skills, employment and inclusivity perspective to the conversation. As a result, was there was powerful sense of community that underpinned many of the discussions around growth and new commercial opportunities which was genuinely refreshing.”

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