Well we’ve waved off 2017 and look forward to a new year, so it seems a timely moment to reflect on quite a year at the Digital Media Centre.
The DMC Family
We’ve welcomed new customers, we’ve seen existing customers grow bringing in new people and taking more space – and our community is continually building and evolving with new partners, associates and visitors, just as it should. We continue to provide a space for Creative Recovery to host their Live Arts Cafe and and raised over £120 to support them at our DMC Christmas Lunch. We now also host Crafty Business Barnsley for their regular meet ups. As we went into Christmas the DMC was over 90% occupied by a wide range of start up and growing companies. We will be ensuring our website is up to date over the next few weeks to reflect who’s here and who we work with.
We gauge the success of the DMC by the success of our customers; so many of them are growing, winning new, amazing work and creating new ideas – the building is bursting at the seams. It’s so good to see so many hard working, creative people and businesses bringing the DMC to life and 2017 was the year that we really hit a sweet spot. It was definitely helped by the coffee shop vibe that Julie and her Ground Hand Pulled coffee cart have brought into the mix. Julie’s top notch brews coupled with plenty of new, cozy seating for informal meetings are definitely fuelling our creativity!
Check out our video produced by Visualisedit to hear what DMCers think:
We had a party in November for our DMC family to celebrate the birthday which linked to the launch of IoT Tribe North. At the event we kicked off our year long programme of events called DMCX (X standing for 10). We’ll be revealing more about the event programme later in January but, as a heads up, we’ll be firing lasers off the building in February…
IoT Tribe North
As part of our 10th birthday festivities, we also launched IoT Tribe North. This is an accelerator programme for Internet of Things start ups supported by Innovate UK, Capital Enterprise and us here in Barnsley. We’re so excited to be working with the IoT Tribe team: Luca Cinti is now on site as manager for this project and we’ve been enjoying working with Luca and also the team at Madrid IoT Tribe HQ led by Tanya Suarez, a real force for good in the start up world. The cohort of start ups are now recruited and will join us in January with a mentor day on the 8th and IoTers week kicking off the programme on 15th January. There’s a chance to meet them all on January 18th at a networking event.
There’s a significant global corporate supporter coming on board which we will announce soon. This project is huge for us and is a real step change for Barnsley. We’re all so excited!
We kicked off the year with three fantastic mash up events with Sheffield Digital. These focused on Virtual Reality, Robots and Internet of Things (IoT). We had great feedback and we’re doing it all again in early 2018!
In March we hosted a meeting of our international project TechTown which brought together cities from 10 different European countries at the DMC. They all loved the DMC and also Cannon Hall Farm (who wouldn’t!) and we’ve photographic evidence of how much they enjoyed the ping pong…
In May we held a pilot Connected Manufacturing event bringing together digital experts with manufacturers to explore how collaborating could help industrial companies thrive. The event was a big success and received great feedback from businesses attending. It also attracted support and investment from Digital Catapult Yorkshire and Sheffield Innovation Programme and has led to us leading a bid for £1.3m EU funding to deliver a programme of activity to continue helping businesses to do more digitally with two major partners co-investing too.
The summer brought a gaggle of teenagers into the building for TechTown Lab (I may never recover) and also launched Connected Leaders, a programme to support emerging business leaders. This has proved really beneficial to the companies involved and shows we can make a difference with small activities as well as big things. We’ll be continuing both projects in 2018.
We also led a taster trade mission to Tallinn, Estonia for the Department of International Trade for businesses from all over the northern powerhouse region, as well as leading our TechTown partners for a study visit in Tallinn and attending the URBACT City Festival (also in Tallinn) to receive our Good Practice City Award. We ventured beyond Tallinn too with meetings in Sweden, Dubrovnik and Copenhagen sharing best practice on how to support more digital jobs and businesses.
The Launchpad start up support programme is going from strength to strength with a steady stream of budding businesses getting to know the team and the DMC. We play a massive role in helping new businesses set up; Ben and Doug’s time spent nurturing people and their ideas is a big part of what we do as Team DMC. The DMC team has grown with new faces joining us and familiar faces taking on new roles. I ask a lot of the team and they always work hard to deliver; I’m super proud of our collective achievements this last year.
Our extended team continues to grow too and be an integral part of the great work we do. Ceri Batchelder has been a powerhouse leading local TechTown activity, running Connected Manufacturing and working with IoT Tribe. Laura Bennett has supported us to develop and deliver TechTown Lab and Connected Leaders. Alison Partridge our lead expert for the TechTown project is an essential part of what we do working remotely to help us deliver this programme and also forging new partnerships to support Connected Manufacturing and IoT Tribe. There’s a wide range of great people we work with and they’re all amazing ambassadors for us and have helped us to run events, increase our profile, attract funding and build our community.
In March we won an award at the Local Government Chronicle Awards for Business Transformation. The LGC Awards are highly regarded in the public sector so this is a big accolade for the DMC and Barnsley Council. We won it because we’ve taken a forward thinking and innovative approach to what we do and how we do it here at the DMC. We don’t quite get everything right, but the award recognised how far we’ve come and has helped to give us the platform to keep developing our work.
October saw us receive an international award ‘URBACT Good Practice City’ recognising the success of the DMC and Enterprising Barnsley (the business growth team at Barnsley Council). This award means we can apply to run an international programme sharing and improving our Good Practice within a network of six or seven cities and we’re compiling the application now with partners in Czech Republic and Spain. Wish us luck!
There’s enough to fill many blog posts about what lies ahead in 2018. I’ve alluded to a few headlines already. Next week we’ll be joined by IoT start ups from across the globe and the expert mentors who’ll support them; we have a series of DMCX Sheffield Digital Mash Ups starting next month which will take a deeper dive into emerging areas of tech; we’ve even got a sleep guru sharing his tips for business success on the 18th January.
As well as events there’s lots of strategic work to be done – the DMC is a busy building and we’re starting to plan for how we can create more space, collaborate more widely and bring to life a Digital Campus around us. We wrap up our international TechTown project which has been instrumental in bringing together public sector, private businesses and education locally to explore how we can help grow more digital jobs and businesses – and ensure there are talented people to fill them. We’ll be sharing our TechTown Action Plan in April, and bringing to life some of the ideas it articulates.
And living up to our digital name is super important too – we’ve been working with The Things Network in Manchester and Barnsley.io to install a Things Network gateway on the DMC to support the gathering and using of data inside and outside of the building. We’ve workshops and hackathons in the planning to make the most of the tech and who knows, maybe even hack the DMC!
There’s loads more to share but we’ll leave it there for now as our New Year resolution is to blog about what we’re up to more regularly, and hopefully our online world will better reflect the liveliness of our offline world.
Happy New Year everyone 🙂