Northern Reach, the Lancaster-based tech businesses consultancy which manages Innovate Lancashire’s  Lancashire Digital Hub initiative, has been awarded a significant funding boost through the Barclays Eagle Labs Ecosystem Partnership Programme.

The Barclays Eagle Labs Ecosystem Partnership Programme, supports organisations which are embedded in their local entrepreneurial ecosystem and are helping to grow their region’s tech economy.

The Barclays Eagle Labs investment in Lancashire has been match funded by Lancashire County Council and Northern Reach and will now enable the expansion and enhancement to many of Lancashire Digital Hub’s current activities.

These will include increasing the frequency of the Hub’s regular Tech Talks evenings, Digital Leaders meet ups, and Techy Tuesday drop-in sessions, all of which have helped bring Lancashire’s different technology communities together.

In addition, the funding will enable the development and delivery of several new workstreams including a start-up weekend featuring content curated specifically to support fledgling tech ventures and novice entrepreneurs.

Lancashire Digital Hub’s bolstered business support activities will further be calibrated to complement other early stage provision being delivered in Lancashire by programmes such as FHundED and Boost’s Access to Finance service.

To secure the investment – which will run from April 2024 until May 2025 -Northern Reach needed to demonstrate how its proposed expanded programme of activities were fully aligned to the objectives which underpin the Barclays Eagle Labs Ecosystem Partnership Programme.

Criteria included delivering support which helps to address key challenges faced by many start-up tech firms such as developing a robust business plan and securing early stage investment. Embedding innovation into the local tech economy, and having knowledge of the regional and national tech landscape to effectively signpost companies to complementary business growth support programmes, were other core priorities.

Dan Knowles, founder and MD of Northern Reach, said: “Since 2022, the Lancashire Digital Hub’s objective has been to facilitate and strengthen relationships between disparate technology clusters, bring early stage businesses and scale-ups together with potential investors, and connect key tech influencers with Lancashire’s wider business community.

“Two years on and our programme of meetups and peer-to-peer networking sessions, together with annual gatherings like the Lancashire Digital Summit, has helped establish a thriving digital industries community which might otherwise have remained siloed.

“Now, with Barclays Eagle Labs backing – which has been match funded by Lancashire County Council and Northern Reach- we can not only expand and increase the coverage and frequency of the Hub’s existing activities, we can also develop new initiatives such as the first ever Lancashire start-up weekend.”    

Amanda Allan, Director of Barclays Eagle Labs, said: “We are excited to be facilitating this funding to help boost Lancashire Digital Hub’s offering and we are very much looking forward to seeing this support reach tech businesses in Lancashire.

“Using our Ecosystem Partnership Programme, we are allocating funding to organisations like Northern Reach that are already plugged into their regional ecosystems. We are proud to be able to support these projects, which are designed to help early-stage tech entrepreneurs. Our support for Northern Reach and similar organisations highlights our ongoing commitment to support the tech sector, which is vital to the continued growth of local economies across the whole of the UK.

Over £1m of Barclays Eagle’s Digital Growth Grant has been ring-fenced to support the 2024 Barclays Eagle Labs Ecosystem Partnership Programme.