UPDATED: Barnsley set to swap mining for metadata

By Tania Jacquier

The sleepy South Yorkshire town of Barnsley is set to become Yorkshire’s answer to Silicon Valley, according to a northern tech expert.

Kane Fulton, Tech North’s Yorkshire community engagement manager, says Barnsley is positioning itself as a specialist centre for the Internet of Things, which includes WiFi connected doorbells and grocery-ordering fridges.

The town is working with TechTown, a thinktank that aims to help cities and towns thrive in the digital age.

Start-ups are now being encouraged to apply to the programme for a chance to get 12 weeks working at Barnsley’s flourishing Digital Media Centre, under the direction and mentorship of big businesses. 

Kane, a former TechRadar writer, is very excited by Barnsley’s progress. 

He said: “It’s a real coup for Barnsley, which hasn’t run any other accelerators of this size and skill before.”

The investment in Barnsley will see new firms join Yorkshire’s top digital firms.

In a bid to raise the profile of tech start-ups already present in the UK, Tech North is running its flagship competition, Northern Stars. 

Kane says that the north holds “a treasure trove” of tech start-ups. The final of the competition, next week, will feature “the ten most talented and exciting start-ups from the North of England.” 

The winner will be given a stand at TechCrunch Disrupt in Berlin and receive free media and PR support. They will also get an invitation to meet influential government figures and investors. 

Kane is worried about the impact of Brexit on the tech community, but hopes solutions can be found to retain top digital talent.

He said: “Our view at Tech North is that diversity within tech companies is a positive thing, which can lead to increased collaboration and generation of ideas.

“If Brexit puts off people from outside this country from starting companies in Britain or joining existing ones, there will be negative consequences. 



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