An end of year message from Tracey

A goodbye to 2021, the year that looked 2020 square in the eyes and said ‘hold my beer’

As 2021 draws to a close, I wanted to thank you for being a part of our DMC community this year and look ahead to hopefully better times in 2022. We might be ending the year in a bit of a state of flux thanks to Omicron and possible further restrictions, but it’s clear from the conversations we’ve had with you that there’s a lot of positivity and a LOT of hard work going into driving your businesses forward. You are the reason we are here, and it means a lot to all of us at the DMC that you’ve chosen to base yourselves here and invest in being such a vital part of Barnsley’s economy. Your patience, good humour and continued commitment keep us all going!

I’d say we’ve weathered this year well (let’s not talk about the parking, eh?). The Enterprising Barnsley DMC team has restructured and expanded to help deliver improved services. Julie and Makauley are our new DMC Experience Officers, expertly supported and managed by Sam Jones who moved into the role of DMC Experience Manager in the summer. Judy Sidebottom continues to weave her magic as DMC Key Account Manager, helping to broker support into your businesses and keeping you posted with all the different grants, programmes and opportunities we spot! Ben Hawley has moved from the Launchpad team to support the DMC as Projects and Contracts Manager, overseeing a wide range of programmes including the delivery of our new Makerlab at DMC 02 which will officially open in early 2022 and we’ve been hugely supported on this by Paul Bennett. We also have Justine Orford, DMC Project Officer, who has been working with us all year on a temporary basis until moving into a fixed term position at the start of December, and we’ve just been joined by Lauren Shale who is working with us as a temporary project officer supporting Matt Snowden with marketing and communications as he continues to help tell the world about all things DMC! We also have our Facilities Management team delivering front of house and building support in DMC 01. Charlotte, Stacey, Sarah, Alan, Denise and all of the cleaning ninjas have continued to keep the building moving, working and safe throughout the ups and downs and ins and outs of Covid. 

We’ve also been collaborating with amazing partners – Ceri Batchelder continues to work with us as a networking and connecting supremo bringing exciting opportunities and projects into Barnsley including IoT Engine, a new early stage support programme for Internet of Things business ideas that launches in January. Rikki Coles has joined the extended team from the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre to lead that programme. We’ve also worked with students from University of Sheffield to help businesses explore IoT technologies, and students from the Business School at Sheffield Hallam University have helped us to develop our own work as we look ahead to the future of the DMC. Lastly, we’ve once again worked with IoT tribe to deliver a successful 3rd cohort of the programme which focussed on Smart Building, and Net Zero Economy technologies.

It’s been amazing to see DMC companies show such resilience in the face of lockdowns, market shifts, a difficult recruitment landscape and ongoing restrictions. We’ve had companies grow their staffing, companies move into larger space as well as some who’ve embraced a new working model, and downsized office space whilst still staying connected. 

We’ve seen businesses join the DMC from across Yorkshire, as well as virtually joining us from across the world via the IoT Tribe accelerator. We’ve seen fundraising rounds, grants secured, new business won and new markets tackled. 

And of course, we safely managed pie day! 

In October we officially launched TEAM SY (Tech Ecosystem Accelerator and Market Making) with partners Capital Enterprise with our first large event in 18 months. It was a great, people centred event that brought in the regions influential partners to help us drive the digital ecosystem forward. TEAM SY aims to scale up South Yorkshire tech sector through a suite of accelerators, pre-accelerators and support to business. For the launch we were joined by Marta Krupinska, Head of Google for Startups UK who shared her own insights into setting up a new business, followed by a thought provoking panel discussion and some ever vital netowrking (best tip – always party with your cofounders!). I’m so pleased and so proud to be part of this team and this business community. I’ve seen such support, innovation and collaboration even whilst people battle huge change

Saying Goodbye

Yet 2021 has had some very extreme lows. Our team has worried about your teams as you do battle with Covid cases. I’ve worried about my team too, having to watch remotely as some of them battled with such an awful illness. I’m pleased to say they have recovered and I hope your teams have done the same where you’ve been affected.

In June, we lost a member of our community and it’s only right that we remember them as we look ahead to 2022. Glen Crossland was a force of nature. A big personality who had grown with the DMC, building a committed team who helped to create a unique agency in Walnut. Losing Glen was hard for everyone that knew and loved him, particularly

Catering Insight - Walnut Creative to continue in memory of Glen Crossland

his team, his family and his friends. When you build something like the DMC, centred on human connection, tragedies like this hit even harder but the resilience and support shown by everyone reassured me that putting people at the heart of what we do is the right approach. Thank you for supporting each other this year, and for committing to the DMC. We are here for you, not just for your business. You can contact our mental health first aider, Julie, on juliehine@barnsley.gov.uk, visit https://www.samaritans.org/ for 24 hour support, or call Amparo for free and confidential support on 0300 088 9255.

I’m pleased that all of the Walnut team have moved into new roles with other companies and it’s a testament to Glen’s approach that such a talented bunch were snapped up quickly. I’m also hugely happy to share that Liam Gilroy, creative director with Walnut, has started his own agency and eighty joins us in office 401 at DMC 01.

Brighter Nights and (hopefully) Brighter Days

We took part in Bright Nights this year, Barnsley’s winter light festival, and our ‘Hope Shines’ neon artwork by Patrick Murphy continues to illuminate the roof terrace (and the valley!) and we will be permanently installing ‘HOPE’ in the atrium in the new year. We will shortly be commissioning a digital artist residency to work towards Bright Nights 2022 when we hope to get both DMCs participating (storms permitting!). 

Throughout the year we will be working with four cities from across Europe to share ideas and knowledge from our work here in Barnsley to help them keep growing their economies and they’ll be visiting us in the autumn. This work helps Barnsley and the DMC to stay connected, build our relationships and bring real opportunity and creativity back into Barnsley. You can read more about our Tech Revolution here! 

We’ve been working with European cities for the last seven years through a programme called URBACT and it is this work, plus the knowledge and collaboration it allows to develop locally, that is helping us to move to a new era for the DMC. In January we will be inviting you to join consultation on the first phase of The Seam, Barnsley’s Digital Campus, which will be developed all around the DMC. This exciting opportunity was born of collaborative workshops with our businesses and partners back in 2017 and to start to see it come to life is hugely exciting. Already The Seam has our two DMC facilities as well as Barnsley College’s SciTech hub for digital skills which was opened by Nadhim Zadawi, Secretary of State for Education, in October. The College has also recently secured funding for a new Institute of Technology which will help to continue transforming education and lives here in Barnsley.

Looking ahead to 2022, we will be rolling our sleeves up and bringing the DMC back to life with a whole range of programmes and events as well as lots of support for you and your business. We will share more on this in January but expect more networking; more seminars, workshops and demonstrations around technology; more social events and a new tech startup meetup which kicks off in January. And… 2022 is our 15th birthday. So planning is already underway for DMC XV, which will take place in November. We had a gin bar in a horsebox and a cake shaped like DMC 01 for DMC X so who knows what we’ll pull out of the bag this time!

It’s certainly been a busy year, and I’m sure 2022 will bring more of the same. I’m sincerely hoping we all feel a bit more on the front foot and that we can really start to plan ahead again. There’s lots of exciting things ahead but none of it works without you, your teams or your business. Thank you so much for sticking with us and making DMC a home for business in Barnsley. 

And I have to give a very personal thank you to the amazing DMC team who have a shared vision to help make your business a success, and who continue to work tirelessly (although I think they’re looking forward to a break…) to bring the DMC and all of our projects and programmes to life. From the cleaning team and Alan our caretaker, to Will our new coffee cart maestro, the FM team and the DMC team, across all of our project partners Capital Enterprise, Sheffield Hallam University, URBACT and more, everyone shows such commitment to making DMC and Barnsley a success.  

There’s exciting times ahead and I look forward to sharing them with you. Have a wonderful, safe Christmas and here’s to a Happy New Year.

Tracey