Report shows North East business creation, confidence & regional pride boosted by Newcastle Startup Week

A new ‘Impact Report’ commissioned by the Newcastle Startup Week team has highlighted that events such as theirs play a key role in growing the North East economy by facilitating business growth, boosting entrepreneurial wellbeing & increasing regional pride.

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’ & can be downloaded from

Major Impact

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 & 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 & 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 & the event on 13-17 May 2019 is on target to attract 700 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’ & 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.”

What next?

After three years, the team would now like to ask the reader how they’d like to take things forward & welcome any conversations about how to build on what they’ve achieved so far.

To download the Impact Report, please visit

About Newcastle Startup Week (NSW)

  • NSW is a 5-day & night festival that inspires & helps people to start or grow their business in the North East of England.
  • NSW first took place in May 2017 & was repeated again in May 2018 (with a 1-day Newcastle Scaleup Summit in November 2017). Both events had over 600 delegates from across the UK, Europe & USA & the 2019 event is on target to reach 700.
  • The third NSW will take place in multiple venues across Newcastle & Gateshead on 13-17 May 2019.
  • With 70+ speakers across the week, notable speakers this year include Steven Bartlett (CEO & Co-Founder, Social Chain), Brad Burton (the UK’s no.1 motivational business speaker), Joanna Feeley (Founder & Managing Director, Trend Bible), Ed Molyneux (Founder & CEO, FreeAgent), Sam Conniff Allende (Author, Be More Pirate) & Michael Owen (Designer & Founder, Always Wear Red).
  • Although the event name refers to ‘Newcastle’, Newcastle Startup Week aims to celebrate & promote the whole of the North East as the best place to start & grow a business in the UK, features speakers from across the region & the 2019 event takes place in multiple venues across Newcastle & Gateshead.

About Plan Digital

Established in 2016 by Paul Lancaster, Plan Digital are award-winning Inbound Marketing, Business Development & Events experts focused on accelerating the growth of businesses in the North East of England. They’re also the founders & organisers of the annual 5-day Newcastle Startup Week festival in May, the 1-day Newcastle Scaleup Summit that first took place in November 2017, the monthly Founders’ Friday events & creators of the ongoing #ThisIsMINE (Made In North East) social media campaign.

Live Q&A with Peter Davison (PayPal / Fishburners) on 16th October 2018

Peter Davison, first seed investor in PayPal, key adviser to Peter Thiel & founder of Australia’s largest co-working space ‘Fishburners’ (also now in Shanghai) did a Fireside Chat and live Q&A with us at the Tuspark Eagle Lab co-working space in Newcastle on Tuesday 16th October.

Peter Davison (PayPal / Fishburners)

Peter’s ancestors emanate from the Newcastle area so his team emailed us after reading about Newcastle Startup Week as he was keen to get to know the local startup scene and share with them his personal learnings from his lengthy career within the startup industry in Silicon Valley, Australia and China.

Whether you work for a startup, scaleup or enterprise level business, are an investor, adviser or just keen supporter of the North East business community, this was a chance to hear first hand what Silicon Valley is really like and what it takes to grow a successful tech community in your town or city!

We were delighted to see over 100 people at the event and whether you were or not, it’s worth listening to Peter’s words of wisdom again via the Facebook Live video below:

Is Local Tribalism holding the North East back?

In May we ran another successful 5-day Newcastle Startup Week festival for over 600 people for the 2nd year in a row. This year, I was delighted to see we attracted more people from outside the region including Scotland, Cumbria, Greater Manchester, West Midlands, Wales, London and the South Coast plus a handful from Germany, Switzerland and the USA. This shows that our ongoing social media marketing and PR is working and helping to spread the word about what a great place the North East is to start and grow a business.

However, when I dig a bit deeper into where people are coming from within our region, the breakdown is disappointing. Of the 610 delegates, 373 were from Newcastle upon Tyne but only 28 were from Gateshead (33 came from Manchester). Worse still, only 11 came from North Shields, 9 from South Shields and just 6 from Sunderland (the same number that travelled all the way from London)! Go further North and South of the region and the number falls to just 5 from Durham and 1 each from Darlington and Cramlington, with the same number from other towns and villages in rural parts of the region.

Newcastle Startup Week 2018 analytics

Clearly we need to do more to get the message out that despite the name, Newcastle Startup Week is all about celebrating local success stories from across the North East and encouraging more people in our region to be more entrepreneurial and bring their business ideas to life. The reason we call it ‘Newcastle’ Startup Week and not ‘North East’ Startup Week is because all our daytime and night time events have so far taken place within Newcastle city centre to make everything within easy walking distance. And from an inward investment point of view, when we’re trying to attract businesses and people from outside the region, Newcastle is the brand everyone has heard of. (If you say ‘North East’ to some people, they think you mean North East London, North East Scotland or the North East of their own country).

Even so, I’m concerned that deep-rooted local tribalism (linked to football teams and rivalries borne during the heavy industry era) may be preventing some people in the North East from making the most of opportunities on their doorstep just a 20-30min drive or short Metro ride away. Meanwhile, people from other parts of the UK (and other countries) are willing to spend hours travelling to Newcastle to get the knowledge, contacts and sometimes funding they need to start their business back home. As someone at Newcastle University recently said to me, “Where are all the Geordie and Mackem entrepreneurs?”

If you live outside Newcastle and dream of starting your own business, I hope to see you at Newcastle Startup Week next year and if it makes it more palatable, I’m pleased to say we will be running some of our events on the Gateshead side of the river too. Likewise, if you know someone thinking of starting a business, please encourage them to attend so they don’t miss out on next year’s event. Find out more at

[Podcast] You don’t have to be Californian to launch a startup

Last week I took part in a great podcast interview with Phil Byrne, Web Marketing Coach & Director of the Positively Sparks agency in which we talked about a wide range of topics including my thoughts on startups and entrepreneurship, why I call myself a ‘SuperConnector’ and the origins of my 5 day Newcastle Startup Week festival taking place in May.

I’ve done a quite a lot of interviews over the years but this is possibly my best so far thanks to Phil’s excellent interview style which helped tease out some of my best thoughts.

If you’ve got a spare 37 mins 55 secs on your journey to work, in the background whilst working on your business or relaxing at home, please have a listen and let me know what you think by Tweeting me @lordlancaster



Paul runs Plan Digital from his home city of Newcastle in the North East of England. A region he is so passionate about that he is about to launch the very first Newcastle Startup Week festival – a 5 day event aimed at equipping local entrepreneurs with many of the skills they will need to build a successful startup. Paul tells us all about his experience in helping small businesses launch and grow. We learn why he is known as a “SuperConnector” and we discover his top tips for becoming “connected” with real people offline too. Listen above, or subscribe via iTunes at At the end of the episode, don’t forget to download your FREE web marketing pack, available at

Why I’m full of confidence for 2017

2016 has been a weird old year hasn’t it? Full of surprises, twists and turns you would never have predicted in December last year, which is why it’s always risky to make them for the year ahead. However, I’m an eternally optimistic guy so I’m going to tell you about some things that are already exciting me about 2017.

Firstly, despite all the shock and confusion around Brexit, the Labour Leadership challenge and the North East Combined Authority’s vote against Devolution, I believe 2017 will be the year our region comes into its own as we roll up our sleeves and work together to grow our local economy and show the UK Government, national media and international business community why we are such a great place to start and grow a business.

Yes, the uncertainty around Brexit and loss of EU funding could potentially make things very difficult for us, but until Article 50 is invoked (if at all) we need to knuckle down and use the first few months of 2017 to up the ante and do everything we can both individually and collectively to encourage more people to start or grow a business in the North East and attract more inward investment from other parts of the UK and around the world.

But this isn’t just pie in the sky wishful thinking. We already manufacture and export more goods to the EU than any other UK region and have a thriving IT/tech/digital/creative sector that research has shown is the second fastest-growing in the country after London. Our low cost of living yet high quality of life, plus five fantastic universities churning out thousands of excellent graduates each year also makes it a very attractive place for established businesses to re-locate or open another office.

Despite all this, we still lag behind other areas of the UK in terms of business startup and scale up rates as ‘entrepreneurship’ is often seen as something that is done elsewhere and too many people are afraid to start that business they’ve always wanted to do, for fear of failure or ridicule. However, we have a rich and proud heritage of innovation and invention here in the North East which was the catalyst for the industrial revolution and tipped the power of balance away from London and the South East and towards ‘the North’.

It’s for this reason that my team and I are pulling together a 5-day, citywide ‘Newcastle Startup Week’ between 15-19 May with support from the North East LEP, Sage, Federation of Small Businesses, Blu Sky Tax, GP Bullhound and more to remind ourselves and others what a great region we are and to act as the catalyst for a new industrial revolution that begins right here in Newcastle upon Tyne.

I hope you can join us by ‘registering your interest’ at or helping to spread the word through your network.