Launching TEAM SY
On a windy Thursday in mid-October, TEAM SY invited friends, collaborators and other interested parties to join us at Barnsley DMC where we formally launched TEAM SY and introduced the audience to the full suite of incubation and acceleration programmes that we are bringing to the region. Kim Holland, TEAM SY Project Manager, was our MC for the evening, and the room was at capacity with 90+ people in attendance.
Introduction from our TEAM SY Lead
Darren Balcombe, Deputy CEO of Capital Enterprise, situated TEAM SY as a project borne out of conversations held as far back as 2017; conversations that were had with many of the local and regional players in the room that evening. Four years later, TEAM SY is building on those opportunities to further extend the support for tech startups in the region, and encourage new players into the market. Not that we could have predicted a pandemic, but the timing feels apt, as challenges for tech startups remain in South Yorkshire: the marketplace is disconnected; specific tech and digital provision has been sparse; and as a region we are behind others in our startup rates. TEAM SY responds to these challenges in ways both tangible and intangible: first, by bringing fantastic acceleration programmes to the region, and second, by working to create a strong, sustainable, and competitive entrepreneurial ecosystem.
Our keynote, Marta Krupinska
Following Darren’s opening remarks, we were delighted to hear from our keynote speaker, Marta Krupinska, Head of Google for Startups, who was beamed in live from London (with absolutely no technical hitches – thank you You & Us Events!). Marta drew from her considerable experience as a successful serial entrepreneur to share some of her “top tips” for startup success.
The standout piece of advice was to be ambitious – Marta encouraged founders in the room not just to aim to be the best in the region, but to be the best in the world. She talked about the importance of role models (“you can’t be it if you can’t see it”), in particular for female founders, and how valuable it is to have peer support and a well-connected ecosystem.
Speaking from her own experience, Marta told the audience how she had had to move to London from Poland to seek the support she needed for her startup, but that 10 years later, this support was much more widely available, proving the point that ambitious entrepreneurship can happen anywhere, and that we as a region should be confident about future startup successes. Marta said how sorry she was not to be joining us in person after 18 months of Zoom calls, so hopefully we can entice her to come visit us in South Yorkshire soon.
The panel discussion
We then moved on to our panel discussion, chaired by John Spindler, CEO of Capital Enterprise. On our panel we had Tracey Johnson (Leader of all things digital at Barnsley DMC), Helen Oldham (Founding Board Director at North Invest), Muz Mumtaz (Assistant Director at South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority), and Luke Robinson (Director at Post Urban Ventures). It was a lively discussion, with John bringing his inimitable style and wit to the proceedings. Panelists were asked about the opportunities and barriers for tech entrepreneurs in this region; discussed the post-Covid landscape; and were asked to provide their wishlist of what the Levelling Up agenda might bring to South Yorkshire. It was fantastic to have a mix of public and private sector organisations represented on the panel, with those individuals themselves holding many years experience working on matters related to entrepreneurship, economic development, and investment.
Introducing the TEAM SY Programmes
Our two TEAM SY Super Connectors, Laura Bennett and Ceri Batchelder, then took to the stage to present the pre-accelerator, accelerator, and standalone programmes that TEAM SY is bringing to South Yorkshire. After months of working collaboratively (with many stakeholders in the room) to bring on board acceleration partners, this felt like a real moment of celebration to hear them all described as a full suite of programmes. The TEAM SY programmes target early and later stage founders, across a range of verticals from AI, DeepTech, and IoT, to Tech for Good, HealthTech, and Entrepreneurial Leadership. You can read more about the programmes which are live on our website, but watch this space, as many more will be added over the coming months. Laura also took a moment to demystify the phrase “entrepreneurial ecosystem” – you’ll be able to read more about this in a forthcoming blog post – and to explain more about our role as Super Connectors, which you can read more about here.
Support from Chris Philp MP
To finish the event, we played a pre-recorded message of support from Chris Philp MP, Minister for Technology and Digital Economy at DCMS. Chris spoke about the strategic importance of tech and digital for the UK economy: the tech industry is growing faster than the rest of the economy, with the tech sector GVA growing at three times the rate of the wider economy. He reminded us that jobs in the digital sector are on average better paid than other sectors, leading to greater prosperity for all. Chris committed his support to TEAM SY to ensure that the tech sector in our region can thrive. We are grateful for his support, and that of the wider DCMS governmental department.
Despite the economic challenges in our region, not least caused by the Covid-related restrictions we’ve all faced as a society, the message coming through from all speakers was that the future is bright for tech entrepreneurship in South Yorkshire. Strong entrepreneurial ecosystems do not occur overnight – it takes many years of graft to establish the relationships, build up a narrative, and create the right conditions, as many of the attendees on the night will be familiar with from their own direct experience. But the sense was the TEAM SY programmes were arriving at the right time for the region, offering considerable wrap-around support to a much wider range of actual and potential entrepreneurs than ever before. Moreover, despite the project having an “end point” when the ERDF funding ceases in June 2023, the Capital Enterprise and Enterprising Barnsley teams, as well as our vast network of supporters, have all bought into the ambition of TEAM SY as an ecosystem project – we are working hard to ensure that the legacy of TEAM SY will be a stronger and better connected entrepreneurial ecosystem that lasts far beyond the programmatic activity we have planned for the next two years. We are delighted to have you join us on this journey!
If you missed the event, you can catch up on the recording below.