As part of Newcastle University’s ‘Arrow project’, academics from the Centre for Urban & Regional Development Studies (CURDS) were asked to carry out some online research & in-depth interviews with past delegates, speakers & sponsors from the Newcastle Startup Week festival in 2017 & 2018. The findings were then turned into an ‘Impact Report’ which was produced by Newcastle-based Sail Creative who specialise in ‘designing for commercial & real-world impact’ and can be downloaded here.
The research found that the events have had a major impact on delegates personally with 80% of survey respondents saying they felt more motivated or inspired and 61% saying they felt more confident after attending. From a regional perspective, 66% said they were more likely to think Newcastle/the North East was a good place to start a business and 75% were more likely to think Newcastle/the North East has a vibrant business community.
Paul Lancaster (Founder & Event Producer, Newcastle Startup Week) said: “Although we have many examples of how the event has helped people start or grow a business, I wanted to get a better understanding of what meaningful impact it has had on people, businesses, the city & region. I’m pleased to say the findings are extremely positive & although beneficial to businesses, the biggest impact of Newcastle Startup Week seems to be on the people themselves & their perception of the North East. If we can encourage more people to attend events like this from every part of our region, the positive impact on our local communities, villages, towns & cities could be enormous!”
Launched in 2017, Newcastle Startup Week is a five day & night festival for entrepreneurs & business leaders that takes place in multiple venues across Newcastle upon Tyne & Gateshead in May. The 2017 & 2018 events both attracted over 600 delegates each and the event on 13-17 May 2019 is on target to attract 700 individuals from across the UK & around the world.
Despite its success, Lancaster says running Newcastle Startup Week hasn’t been without its challenges adding: “Running events of this scale on a shoestring budget is hard! From the very beginning, I didn’t want to make the event free to attend but at the same time knew we needed to keep the price as low as possible. Even so, the North East of England is still too heavily reliant on European funding which means that everyone has become addicted to ‘free’. This makes it difficult to persuade some people to pay anything for a ticket. There are also some people & organisations who could be far more supportive than they are because of the role that they have, it’s been difficult to get the 5 North East universities to fully engage with the event & the number of students attending, despite heavily discounted tickets, is disappointingly low. Finally, I believe that geography is still a barrier with ‘Local Tribalism’ caused by football, politics & perceived poor transport infrastructure seemingly stopping many people from outside Newcastle & Gateshead from attending the event.”
After three years, the team would now like to ask the reader how they’d like to take things forward and welcome any conversations about how to build on what they’ve achieved so far.