TechNExt 2023: What Happened

TechNExt23, held in June, was a remarkable and friendly celebration of the thriving technology sector in the North East. Spanning five days, the festival gathered over 3,000 attendees and took place in various towns and cities across the region. It showcased the best tech businesses and talent, creating an atmosphere of innovation and excitement for the future of the industry.

From curated showcases to community-led fringe events, TechNExt23 highlighted the diverse achievements of the North East’s tech scene, fostering a sense of camaraderie and collaboration among tech enthusiasts from all walks of life. The festival’s resounding success was a testament to the region’s vibrant and welcoming tech community.

Community Designed Events

DAY 1: 

Day one of the festival was filled with exciting events across various locations. At Opencast’s Newcastle HQ, attendees had the privilege of joining a Fireside Chat with Chi Onwurah MP, discussing challenges facing the North East and her tech background. We also had a ministerial visit from Paul Scully MP (Department for Science, Innovation and Technology) who attended Money, Investment and Start Up Business Event and our Eldon Square pop up for the day.

In another session, Vision Accountants, RBC Brewin Dolphin, NEL Fund Managers, and British Business Bank shared invaluable money-related insights and networking opportunities for start-ups. TrendBible presented emerging gaming trends and personas in the future of gaming at Gateshead. Newcastle Strategic Solutions hosted a morning of informative sessions on UX Research and Cyber Security, then attendees made their way across to neighbour and co-sponsor Sage headquarters, where partners discussed how AI and data can can transform lives in North Tyneside.

Digital Trustees North East provided a platform for digital experts to become trustees for local charities. Dance City hosted a Creative UK North East Social exploring the fusion of technology and performance. Opencast and techUK jointly discussed the techUK manifesto’s implications in Newcastle. Design Talks offered an event for designers, including portfolio reviews by senior designers.

Lastly, Opencast showcased its impact through a key partnership. Various events across the festival aimed to foster growth, innovation, and digital transformation in the region.

DAY 2: 

On day two of the festival sessions covered diverse topics such as cyber protection for businesses, empowering women in business and technology, demystifying diversity through LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY®, boosting productivity with digital tools, and exploring the impact of AI on education.

Additionally, participants had the chance to delve into Accenture’s award-winning approach in Tech4Good, experience augmented reality at The Alnwick Garden, and gain insights into the future of the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the North East.

The festival also hosted interactive sessions on tech career opportunities, culture creation in Minecraft, and dispelling myths about working in the tech industry.

The day concluded with an industry dinner, offering networking opportunities with tech entrepreneurs and business leaders across the region.

DAY 3: 

On day three of the festival Mediaworks hosted a captivating Digital Breakfast session focused on generative AI-powered machines. The TechNExt Main Stage at Sunderland City Hall featured thought-provoking talks from industry leaders in technology and related fields.

Newcastle Helix presented Building Blocks, an educational day for local school children centered around STEAM subjects. A workshop in Durham explored Workplace Wellbeing and the significance of data-driven solutions. Gateshead held a Round Table Conversation on AI in Education and the Workplace, while Newcastle showcased the journey of regional entrepreneurs during the Founder Spotlight event.

Hainton’s .NET Meetup brought two insightful talks on Microsoft Azure integration and technical blogging. Inclusive Teams Deliver discussed the impact of agile approaches on team outcomes, with practical tips from Dr J. Girlguiding UK hosted Chatterbox, an interactive workshop teaching girls about algorithms, coding, and robots. The Tech Table by TrueNorth offered an exclusive roundtable dinner for technology leaders in the region.

DAY 4: 

On day four of the festival, No-Code Arcade brought together no-code and low-code enthusiasts in Newcastle for collaborative exploration of the latest technologies.

Cyber Girls First empowered attendees with talks on IT, coding, and cyber security, featuring accomplished women leaders in these fields. The Space and Digital event in Durham showcased how space tech is revolutionising life on Earth and beyond, with speakers from Airbus, European Space Agency, Raytheon NORSS, and Realsafe Technologies.

Gateshead hosted NextGen Talent Match, a speed talent matching event connecting employers with digital graduates. Nebula Labs collaborated with South Tyneside Council to explore the transformative power of data.

Tech Talent Live aimed to inspire the next generation of tech talent while showcasing North East employers. Seymourpowell Open House provided a behind-the-scenes look at design and innovation, igniting creative collaboration.

Day four wrapped up with The Festival Party in Newcastle, which allowed participants to come together to celebrate the region’s tech achievements.

DAY 5: 

On the final day of the festival, a diverse range of events took place, providing valuable insights into various tech and innovation domains.

In Newcastle, “Getting Started with Serverless” offered a workshop for software developers to explore the fundamentals of serverless technologies. “How is Artificial Intelligence (AI) Revolutionising Healthcare?” in Durham discussed AI’s impact on early detection and improved patient outcomes.

Newcastle’s “We Pretended It Wasn’t Green” showcased an immersive art project using real-time earth data. “Artificial Intelligence (AI) for Journalists and Publishers” in Durham presented AI applications in the media industry. Tuspark hosted “Tech Startup Skills” workshop, covering startup law, accounting, and intellectual property.

“Why Employee Wellbeing Matters” tackled the importance of employee engagement, and “Exploring Virtual Production and Motion Capture Technologies” in Gateshead delved into the latest content creation methods. “The 2023 Newcastle Biotech Festival” brought together entrepreneurs in the BioTech and Precision Medicine field, exploring mutual support and regional contributions.

Lastly, “The Post Apocalypse School of Teesside: What is TECHNOLOGY anyway?” in Middlesbrough pondered advanced technology’s seemingly magical nature.