The North East Times ‘Impact Awards’ highlight those people based in the North East who have made an exceptional impact across five key areas – financial, global, regional, profile & innovation.
Our Founder & Director, Paul Lancaster, won the ‘PROFILE’ category in the 2019 awards for the way he promotes the North East business community on a regional, national & international level at an awards ceremony at Wylam Brewery in Newcastle on 4th December 2019.
The following article appeared in the December issue of North East Times magazine:
‘PROFILE’ Impact Award Winner – Paul Lancaster (Founder & Director, Plan Digital UK)
While some baulk at the term ‘SuperConnector’, Paul Lancaster not only embraced the label when he first read about it in Malcolm Gladwell’s 2000 book, The Tipping Point, but it continues to inform his work to promote the North East and its business community.
Paul spent a career helping people start their own business, in roles for Shell LiveWIRE, Tech North, Generator and for corporates including Sage and PNE Group, before establishing his own business, Plan Digital, in 2016.
As a business owner, Paul continued to advise entrepreneurs but found that, despite there being a wealth of support and advice on starting a business, people were still struggling to find the information they required. Paul decided the North East needed an internationally significant event where a network of like- minded people could attend and be inspired and share knowledge around topics such as starting and growing a business, investment and skills retention.
Paul held his first Newcastle Startup Week in 2017. The five-day event offered a range of talks and workshops divided into five themes: inspiration, establishing a business, funding and finance, scaling, and whether to keep going or pivot.
Held annually, the event has gone from strength to strength, with 2019’s Newcastle Startup Week attracting almost 800 delegates and featuring major speakers including Steve Bartlett, founder and CEO of Social Chain. In addition, a series of fringe events took place, further boosting the knowledge sharing and support.
Paul worked with Newcastle University to analyse the impact of Newcastle Startup Week 2019. The resulting report shows 82 per cent of attendees ‘gained new knowledge or insight’, 61 per cent felt ‘more confident’, 40 per cent ‘found new collaborations or partners’ and 20 per cent found ‘new customers or markets’.
Newcastle Startup Week is also increasingly attracting people from outside of the region, with more than 60 per cent of this year’s attendees based from outside Newcastle.
“They use it as a way of finding out what’s going on in the North East” Paul says.
To continue the momentum of Newcastle Startup Week, Paul ran a one-day Scale-Up Summit in 2018 and has now added to this with his Founders’ Friday events. Held the last Friday of each month and sponsored by Sintons law firm, they provide attendees with a day of networking, workshops, panel discussions and economic insights.
Encouraging collaboration is an essential driver for Paul – who played an instrumental role in bringing the business and incubator centre, TusPArk, to Newcastle.
He has made it his mission to promote links between the North East of England and the South East of Scotland in particular.
“People are always looking South [to build business links] but I’ve been going up to Scotland for many years and Edinburgh and Newcastle are cities that have a lot in common. There are a lot of opportunities for collaboration between the two areas.”
This northern outlook doesn’t stop at Scotland as Paul is also working to promote links with Newcastle and the Nordic countries and Canada too.
In addition, Plan Digital UK’s founder has attended and spoken at a variety of tech events around the world in 2019 including Turing Fest, Edinburgh, Techfestival Copenhagen, Edinburgh Startup Summit and Lisbon Web Summit.
It seems that wherever Paul goes, whether physically or via his digital reach – he is the architect of the hugely popular #ThisIsMINE – the region’s most prolific super connector is always flying the flag for the North East.
Read about all the other Impact Awards winners & shortlisted nominees here.