Updates to the CNE website

September 20, 2010 by


You may not have noticed, but the CONNECT North East website has this week undergone an evolution. This post is to point out the minor changes, and help get any feedback you might have.

Big Picture

CNE has recently partnered with bgroup to take our graphic design and website on to the next stage. As a result, there have been some technical tweaks and design changes, mainly to the RSS feeds and the Connect 4 / connected dots logo [which I think is rather good].


RSS Feeds

There are now three sets of CNE RSS feeds:

You can sign up using an RSS reader.

bridge-club[1]Bridge Club credit

The updated site highlights the lead role that The Bridge Club has had in delivery CONNECT in North East England. The team is:

  • Led by Caroline Theobald
  • Project managed by John Sargent
  • Operated by Toni Allen
  • Inspired by Jane Reynolds, and
  • Techno-kludged by me 😉

Other stuff

The Events calendar is smaller (but still perfectly formed), and the grey menu bar doesn’t have drop-downs any more – look for sub-pages under the ‘Elsewhere’ menu above the calendar, on the right-hand side. Thankfully we’ve been able to tidy up the Social Media News Room.

Wash up – please join in!

Getting you, our stakeholders, involved is what it’s all about. Please sign up for our newsletter (aka the grey “Register for Updates” box), follow us on Twitter, subscribe to our RSS feeds, check out our other online materials, maybe even call the office (0191 230 5742). We’re here to help. 😀


Pitch for funding in a 90 second video – NEA2F

August 23, 2010 by


North East access to finance We’ve been contacted by North East Access to Finance to help them highlight a new service to help early-stage business contact the money people behind the various funds.

Summary – upload a video about your business to their website.

The Nub

This a fairly shameless copying of the their Elevator Pitch page, but happily it spares you my waffle[!]:

We have identified a segment of the growing SME population in the North East that would welcome a less formal first step in the process of seeking external commercial investment.

These, typically young, high growth businesses are keen to get access to a broad range of professional financial investors; be they fund managers, business angels or others.

Through the addition of a simple elevator style pitching facility; NEA2F has enabled users to upload a video pitch to attract the interest of potential financial investors.

Businesses have 90 seconds, (the length of an average ride in an elevator), to concisely pitch their business plan and state the amount of funding they are seeking.

Hugh Morgan Williams, Chair of North East Access to Finance says:

We have close relationships with a broad range of financial investors across the North East region and beyond. All of the VC fund managers and business angel groupings can be found on our site and are a part of a process expected to grow that investor community even further. We are hoping businesses will adopt a “Dragons Den” style to their pitches

The simple elevator pitch functionality aims to bring together the value creators and the value investors in an informal way. Just click on start pitching and you will be guided through the process.

We welcome any feedback you may have on the elevator pitch.

The What’s Needed page goes into more detail.

So, dust off your webcams, your Flip videos and your camcorders, and maybe even some editing software – and get uploading! 😀

Autumn events with CONNECT North East

August 19, 2010 by


A post to highlight the packed programme of Autumn activities here at CNE, mainly in the south of the region. At the bottom, I’ve taken the liberty of re-starting what we’re all about. 🙂

Upcoming Events


A document with details of all three events.

View this document on Scribd

“A Spark of funding for Inspiration”

View this document on Scribd

Blueprint “Meet the Finalists”

  • Thursday 16th September
  • @ Calman Lecture Theatre, Science Site, Durham University (Building 43 in squares E6/7 on this map)
View this document on Scribd

Codeworks DEV event

  • Thursday 23rd September
  • @ IDI Building, Teesside University – it’s the ‘Innovation Building’ in the interactive Campus Map

For more information about CONNECT North East’s upcoming events, contact Toni Allen.

What we do

Our strapline is “Connecting your business to money, management and new markets”. You’ll also notice from the flyer that the role of The Bridge Club has been picked out – “Delivering CONNECT in North East England”, in case it hasn’t been clear until now…

In more detail, CNE:

  • Facilitates experience exchange, peer to peer learning, introductions to professional services, business support and investment for early stage technology start-up companies
  • Develops face-to-face approaches and virtual introductions which add value
  • Co-ordinates workshops, seminars, conferences, debates, mentoring and coaching facilities, advice and information provision and networking opportunities which focus on business growth
  • Harnesses the expertise of its sponsors, partners and members to create an appropriate, effective and demand-led programme
  • Maximises the national and international traction of the CONNECT brand to bring speakers, specialists, and inspirators to the region.

Hopefully now that’s clear then! Do let us know if you’ve got any feedback, by leaving a comment.

Follow-up post to Finance for Business North East event

June 22, 2010 by


This post is to provide further information about the Finance for Business roadshow event in Middlesbrough, which I blogged about recently.

If you missed the event, you can catch up with proceedings via:

  • the live-blog transcript
  • photos
  • video (once I’ve edited & uploaded it)
  • by checking out the slides

I’m also including a PDF of the paper from North East Finance that was on our chairs at MIMA (the event was at the far end of the main hall).

Blurb from the Invite

Although it was Alistair Smith who gave the overview on the day, I thought this excerpt from the invite would help round out readers’ understanding:

North East Finance for Business Investment Funds

– your chance to find out more

The North East’s groundbreaking £125m suite of venture capital funds, which was launched in January, will be a major driver of future economic growth in North East England.

All six funds are now actively looking for investment opportunities across the North East, and this is your chance to find out more.

If you are looking for equity and convertible loan funding for a growing SME, work for someone who does, or provide services to clients who may qualify, this event is a must.

Andrew Mitchell, Chief Executive of the Finance for Business holding fund, will give an overview of the funds and the opportunities they offer, and a panel of fund managers will be on hand to answer your questions.

The event is co-hosted by Jane Reynolds, of CONNECT North East, which facilitates fruitful business conversations.


Vodpod videos no longer available.


This is a 4 minute intro to the funds by the Managers themselves.

[blip.tv ?posts_id=3812269&dest=-1]

More info on the Funds

A list of the funds in the order of the clips from the video:

Fyi, first link on each line is to the relevant Finance for Business North East / North East Finance page, and the second one is to the Fund Manager’s site itself.


Funding options paper

“North East Access to Finance Guide 2010” – a document setting out the finance and business support schemes for the North East of England

View this document on Scribd

UPDATE 28/6/10:

  • Inclusion of information from the invite
  • Links to fund information after the video
  • Video updated on Blip.tv

Live-blog for Finance for Business North East event at MIMA

June 17, 2010 by


A blog post which acts as a placeholder for our live blogging tool for the roadshow event in Middlesbrough:

Middlesbrough Roadshow – Taking the Finance for Business Programme across the region.

Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art

Tuesday June 22, 8.30am – 10.30am

Contact Stephen.warren@northeastfinance.org or Tel: +44 (0)191 211 2300

How it works

Click on the this link which will pop up a new window (you may need to allow this in your browser). You will find a gizmo which allows the person running the live-blog (me) to provide a written running commentary on proceedings. You should be able to make comments yourself, and with a bit of technical wizardry, it should also integrate with Twitter as well.

That link again – Click Here.

If you click on the link before proceedings, then you can set a reminder for yourself. If you view it afterwards, you will get a record of what happened. 🙂

btw I’ll update this post if I can get hold of a video showing how the tool works.

Get involved!

I realise it’s first thing in the morning and therefore not everyone is in front of a computer… :-s

However, if you *are* up with the lark, please feel free to join in the proceedings – we’ll try and get any questions to the panel (in the real-life session) if at all possible. Let us know via Twitter if you have any issues on the day / morning. 🙂

UPDATE: I’ve updated the link above, as I’ve learned there isn’t wifi at MIMA, so accidentally kicked off the session using the mobile version of Cover it Live on my Blackberry! :-s

I’ll try and tweet / live-blog as circumstances allow…

CNE on Teesside and the Tees Valley

June 17, 2010 by


A blog post to make you aware of activities Jane Reynolds is undertaking in the southern part of the North East, aka Teesside and the Tees Valley.

Regular events

Look out for Jane and the CONNECT North East banner at events like:

Finance for Business North East

If you haven’t already heard of this, the following hopefully gives you a flavour:

The new £125m Finance for Business North East programme is a groundbreaking suite of investment funds designed to drive future economic growth in North East England.

As the first of its kind in the England, the ‘super-fund’ will blaze a trail over the next five years by providing vital investment to hundreds of fast growing SMEs and increase the momentum of business enterprise and SME development.

The aim is to support 850 businesses across all sectors through loans and equity investments before 2014 from Tyneside to Teesside.

Ambitious companies based here can access finance from six different funds giving genuine choice and opportunity. These six funds are managed by five different fund managers and target funding at companies from different sectors and stages of growth.

Finance for Business has been made possible by a unique collaboration between the European Investment Bank (EIB), European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and regional development agency One North East (ONE). The EIB has provided funding of £62.5m with ERDF and ONE supplying the remaining £62m.

To help aid awareness and engagement in the Tees Valley area, Jane will be involved in the FFBNE roadshow:

Middlesbrough Roadshow – Taking the Finance for Business Programme across the region.

Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art

Tuesday June 22, 8.30am – 10.30am

Contact Stephen.warren@northeastfinance.org or Tel: +44 (0)191 211 2300

A follow-up event is planned by CNE for late August / early September to help those seeking funding get further information.

Our goal

We aim to help match up early-stage high-growth technology businesses, and those who seek to fund them. Jane is therefore getting out and about as much as possible to bring this mission to a wider audience in the Tees Valley.

Clearly the Finance for Business North East has a key role to play, but we can also connect tech businesses with private finance. Please get in touch if we can help you. 🙂

We hope to see you there, and will hopefully engage with you on Twitter soon! 🙂

Generic AI coverage

December 9, 2009 by


You may recall some blog posts back in April looking at our second annual investment conference, e.g. this one.

I recently blogged about Curictus, and fingers crossed the recent coverage about Generic AI could be another success story in the making [though not wanting to put any sort of curse on them…]

Anyway, recent coverage in The Journal appears to bode well:

INTELLIGENT technology developed by a North East firm has been chosen by the Government to help it fight terrorists.

Newcastle-based Generic AI has won a six-figure contract with the Home Office to develop its artificial intelligence to spot hostile situations in crowded places such as airports and railway stations.

The contract arose after Generic AI pitched for funding at an investment conference held by networking organisation CONNECT North East in Sedgefield, in April.

Representatives of the Government’s INSTINCT (Innovative Science and Technology In Counter-Terrorism) programme were at the event and were impressed by the firm’s cutting-edge artificial intelligence.

I realise we’re not being particularly modest and blowing our own trumpet, but I don’t think we’re much different from other folk! 😉

Online clips

It’s also a chance to give a big shout to Lindsay at Mike Parker Media, for spreading the word about Generic AI far and wide:

Security Park Net

Generic AI helps UK Government fight the war on terror – 2.12.09


Bank Security Portal.com

Generic AI helps UK Government fight the war on terror – 2.12.09


Transport Security Portal.com

Generic AI helps UK Government fight the war on terror – 2.12.09


Infrastructure Security Portal.com

Generic AI helps UK Government fight the war on terror – 2.12.09


[Ok, so these seems to be a re-skinning of the same content, but you get the idea! – Ed.]

Security system management online

Generic AI wins six-figure counter-terror contract with Home Office – 2.12.09


Please let us know if you have seen any other good news stories like this – more than happy to publicise them if appropriate.

Businesses brought together by CONNECT North East

November 9, 2009 by


Amongst the team at CONNECT North East, there is a quiet determination and sincerity to help our local high-growth technology sectors – by matching them up with funding.

There’s much beavering away in the background, so it’s good to get some feedback about the power of our growing network.


By way of explanation, we are fortunate indeed to have in our wider team Gun-Marie Östedt-Axelsson: “since August 1, 2007 I’m the Swedish representative for the Regional Development Agency One NorthEast in NorthEast of England

Gun-Marie recently reported:

As a result of the activities in the SEAGULL project the Swedish company Curictus – www.curictus.se – has now […] been brought into several concrete contacts at the universities in the North East. […] they have also received an additional contact at Sunderland University, where they run a stroke management course in collaboration with the NHS trust.

The background is that the inventor Martin Rydmark from Gothenburg University visited Newcastle in connection to the first Connect Northeast conference on April 23-25, 2008, where he was one of the 3 Swedish speakers. Martin and a colleague have also met Kenny Lang, Barry McLeer and Martin Cox from CELS in Gothenburg on October 2, 2008.

Curictus has now a new CEO, called Pehr-Johan Fager, who has started on August 1. Pehr-Johan has before worked as the deputy CEO for the Swedish company Reachin – www.reachin.se – which has been cooperating with the northeast company UK Haptics – www.ukhaptics.co.uk in the development of their product Virtual Veins and Clinical Skills Trainer. It means that Pehr-Johan knows the CEO and founder Gary Todd, who also was one of the speakers at the Connect conference in Newcastle in April 2008. Pehr Johan has also been to Northumbria University before and he had now also seen that one of the interesting university contacts had worked for UK Haptics before.

Curictus is just now developing their stroke rehabilitation product, which is called VRS Virtual Rehabilitation System, in different ways among other it will be CE-marked in the autumn. They are also just now discussing to go abroad with the product with the UK as the first country.

Pehr Johan has now taken contacts with all the five universities in the northeast and we are also discussing a visit in Newcastle in the beginning of December.

The Curictus website helpfully has a link to this video below:

Video explaining how Curictus works

Info about the Seagull Project

View this document on Scribd

btw, Caroline Theobald tells me that the SEAGULL Project has supported the recent “Digital Minds-The Nordic Light!” event in the historic city of Gävle, held at the end of October. This post by Georgia Rakusen gives more info.

What we thinks this shows

Arguably, Gun-Marie’s feedback speaks for itself, but to us, we think that


  • CONNECT North East is increasingly becoming a powerful network
  • It has an international dimension
  • Networking takes time, but is worth the wait – i.e. the contacts were made in the Spring of last year
  • It’s an interesting lead but we will keep our eye on this one and see where it goes!

Let us know what you think in the comments; if you want to get involved, contact us through the main website.

CONNECT North East survey now live – should only take 5 mins!

October 28, 2009 by

You may seen a post last week asking for your input into our feedback questionnaire.

The good news is that the survey is now live -  there are six pages containing ten questions, so hopefully it should only take 3-4 minutes, 5-6 mins if you give detailed feedback.

We’re interested in what you think of us in terms of what we do now, but we’d also love to know what we could do better or differently in future.

Your feedback is key for us to understand the views of our stakeholders, and what we can do to help you.

Please click here to go through to the survey. It will probably be open for 10 days or so.

We’d love to know what you think of CNE

October 22, 2009 by


Feedback magazine cover issue 19We’ve been re-working our website, and also reviewing our wider web presence (YouTube, Blip.TV, Slideshare, Twitter etc.).

We’re building a conversation with various stakeholders, but at CNE Towers, we felt it would be good to know more about you and what we can help you with.

Photo credit to City On Fire

CONNECT North East mission

The home page of our websites states:

CONNECT North East […] brokers introductions between young technology companies and investors.

CONNECT North East’s role is to strengthen the links between the region’s young technology businesses and the people and organisations they need to know if they are going to attract investment and grow.

CONNECT North East facilitates introductions to encourage partnership working, joint ventures, knowledge transfer and financial investment.

You have come across us

With these activities in mind, we’d love you to tell us how / what we could do better!

The Nub

We’ve also been doing market research, which we’ll hopefully be able to talk more about soon.

In the meantime, I’m putting together an online survey, and hope you might be able to help with the questions. Ones I’ve thought of so far include:

  • What you think of the following, and whether / how they could improve:
    • Events – although you have might have given feedback already in writing (in which case – thanks very much!)
    • The website
    • The blog & social media presence
    • The newsletter
  • We try to find out what people are saying about us online, but please feel free to suggest
    • What forums we should be contributing in
  • Also, who could you refer to become part of the network
    • E.g. we’d love you to follow us on Twitter
  • How we can integrate online and offline better
  • Anything else – e.g. what’s missing / wrong
  • What services would you like to see that we’re not doing already – what would add value for you?
  • What do you do – are you an Investor, or a Tech start-up

btw we’ve recently created a CNE group on Digital Dockyard, and will be putting an invitation to input to the survey on there.

Please help us to help you

You might argue that should know this stuff already! However, we feel that consulting with our stakeholders, and be open to feedback and good ideas is important in itself.

So – please could you give some feedback about the questions above, and whether you have any amendments and / or additions – that would be fantastic. 😀

Rather than second-guess what you’re after – we want to use these tools to better serve you and your needs.

Thanks for reading this, and thank you again for your support. 🙂