Mapping Northern technology

Mapping Northern technology

The Tech North team have mapped the Northern tech ecosystem to show the co-working spaces, accelerators, incubators and digital businesses across the region. Henri Egle Sorotos explains how, and why. 

When I started at Tech North in April this year, one thing was clear – the ecosystem was big, and was growing. What’s more, digital businesses are not confined to the urban sprawls of Manchester, Newcastle and the like. Instead, tech businesses are popping up across the region, with rural and urban settings both housing innovative startups and support organisations.

It hasn’t always been like this. This diagram cumulatively shows the absolute number of high growth ‘tech’ firms incorporated in the three North of England regions since 1990. The North West has the lion’s share – 337. What’s true of all three regions is the sudden increase from around 2006 onwards.

In sum, more high-growth ‘tech’ firms were started in the last six years than the previous 21 years across the region. 50% of all high-growth Northern ‘tech’ firms have incorporated since 2012. This points to a rapid expansion in the number of tech businesses in the past five years. A similar number of high-growth tech firms started in the 22 years before, 1990 – 2012. The cumulative percentage chart in this diagram depicts the rate of incorporation far more succinctly when we compare the different regions. Here, the cumulative frequency is recorded in percentage terms, allowing us to examine the maturity of the ecosystem.

The tool

The rapid expansion of the tech sector prompted the ecosystem map project – a mapping tool designed to showcase the wealth of Northern tech. Korelogic, the technical partners on the project summarise:

Tech North wants to change the way we interact with the tech ecosystem.

We went into this project with the following objectives:

·      To create a useful resource for the community and onlookers

·      Become the go-to destination for info on the Northern tech ecosystem

·      Raise the profile of the ecosystem components

·      Improve visibility and communication between ecosystem players and regions

What was created was a full-stack javascript mapping tool, geographically mapping graph data fed from APIs. Michael Hay of Korelogic explains:

"Together we worked on a mapping platform built with our full-stack javascript experience at Korelogic that pulls graph data from Google and Facebook. The map allows you to explore the startups around you, discover new places to work and connect through local events and meet-ups.

"Korelogic leveraged Node.JS and the no-SQL Mongo database solution. Data is pulled from Google Places and Facebook APIs to ensure minimal data entry resource is required from tech north. A front end map is then rendered using open street maps."

The following organisations are listed in the product at beta release:

·      Northern Stars entrants

·      Upskill participants

·      Companies featured on the Tech North blog

·      Northern Tech 100 companies

·      Northern Tech Award winners

·      Established incubators, accelerators and coworking spaces

View the map here

Data is fed from the google and facebook services. The accuracy of the data shown on this map relies on the SEO and facebook presence of each organisation listed.

How you can use it

Whether you are a founder, employer, tech worker, policy maker, aspiring entrepreneur or investors; we want you to be able to use this map to find information useful to your work. For instance:

·      How many co-working spaces are there in Manchester?

·      What training providers are there in Newcastle?

·      Where is my nearest accelerator?

·      Where are the hotspots of tech companies in the North?

·      Where are the tech hotspots outside the major cities?

Next steps

This tool is still in beta testing phase. We really welcome your feedback and suggestions for future iterations of the map. Know a co-working space we haven’t yet listed? Want us to show your digital tech business? We are looking gather community feedback, as well as crowdsourcing additional information:

·      If you have some feedback or suggestions for future release, get in touch here.

·      Do you have additional information to be included on the map? Let us know here.

We are looking to develop the map in later phases, and have a product that can be extended across the UK.

I am also interested in mapping the ecosystem in non-geographic terms too, and have already started work to visualise investment and talent flow networks. If you are interested in this work please let me know here.