On the trail for global recognition

April 24, 2020

FEATURED IN HOTSPOT

The North East’s status as a hotbed for fintech innovation continues to grow, with a number of established firms – augmented by a raft of more recent entrepreneurial ventures – offering global services out of the region. Integral to the sector’s continued development is Dynamo’s Fintech Cluster, which is working to strengthen the North East’s innovative ecosystem further. Here, cluster manager Dawn Dunn tells Steven Hugill how it is championing the region to make its voice heard even louder

The North East has a stellar roll call of companies blazing a trail across the fintech sector.

From homegrown, multi-national operators such as Sage, Kani Payments, Caspian and Scott Logic, to digitally expanding lenders Virgin Money and Tesco Bank, the region is a technological frontrunner delivering the innovation of tomorrow.

But, says Dawn Dunn, manager of Dynamo’s Fintech Cluster, great potential remains untapped. By supporting established firms’ progress, nurturing the development of SMEs, providing a launchpad for start-ups and highlighting the region’s fertile landscape to expanding businesses and investors, Dawn says the area can thrive exponentially.

A key component in realising this ambition will be Dynamo’s Fintech Cluster. It champions the North East’s innovative eminence, forges links between business and SMEs and seeks out opportunities to further perpetuate the region’s innovative ethos.

“It is about us putting our hand up as a region,” says Dawn.

“By building the cluster and talking about our strengths, we can say to more people, ‘look at us and the great work we are doing’ – it is all about developing the conversation into something more tangible.”

Julian Wells, director of Whitecap Consulting, adds: “Our report on the Fintech ecosystem demonstrates the potential of the North East. We believe this is the only geography with a sector specific body, Dynamo, dedicated to growth and innovation.”

Dawn continues: “Our ability as a region to move with a constantly shifting digital environment gives us a strong footing with the rest of the country.”

“We have always had the workforce here and we now have the opportunity to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with other regions, “It also means we can be a genuine contributor to the growing economies of the North.”

While the area has a number of household names, Dawn says ensuring a continued flow of new operators into the market will be crucial to sustaining the region’s standing as a fintech hotbed.

Such work will also further strengthen the North East’s employment landscape, with the industry offering experienced workers from across the UK – and graduates from the region’s universities – opportunities to build and enhance their careers.

“We have a strong fintech sector that is led by some pretty big operators, such as Sage, Atom Bank, Virgin Money and Newcastle Strategic Solutions,” says Dawn.

“However, as a Cluster, we also have the capacity to support an ecosystem that includes rapidlygrowing companies such as Kani Payments, Honcho, Opencast Software, Donr, Saggezza, Wirecard, Worldpay, Singletrack, Scott Logic, JHC, Parallel 51, GPS, Flex-e-Card, Wyndo, DXC and Partnerize.

“We want to see more of these types of start-ups because innovation drives economic development and job creation, and we want to support companies through the next part of their journeys too.”

Dawn says the Cluster’s work will also focus on promoting the region’s proposition to investors, specifically around the financial benefits it offers companies compared to London and its geographical setting against rival cities in the North.

“We must position ourselves to be seen as a very viable option in the North,” says Dawn.

“We must build on the lines of communication with London and the South East, so that when companies, and their investors, are looking to establish bases outside the capital, the benefits of a North East location are given serious consideration.

Fintech-focussed businesses cannot ignore the added geographical advantage of being based midway between Manchester and Edinburgh, giving them access to talent and the opportunity in both Scotland and the North West. “We are also close to the Nordics, where there is a strong development in the sector and includes businesses such as Stockholm’s Klarna, which provides payment solutions for online shoppers.”

Dawn says the region’s fintech sector will also benefit from developments such as Newcastle’s £350 million Helix quarter.

“The fact we have got these centres, allied to major fintech companies, means there is a real opportunity to look at where the local supply chain can help build things for a national audience,” adds Dawn.

“Having these types of organisations and businesses will only help lead to further innovation and growth.”

For more information, visit www.dynamonortheast.co.uk/clusters/fintech

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