RESIDENTS of Sunderland with big ideas are being challenged with helping ‘unearth the city’s next tombola’.

Tech Startup Sunderland is a programme led by industry experts providing wide-ranging support to new digital and tech businesses in the city.

Set up last year, the programme has brought together a team of tech experts with decades of industry experience to increase the number of new tech businesses setting up in the city.

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This includes providing free one-to-one support to those who have an idea but have little tech know-how, and those who may have an idea and the digital nous but have little to no experience of running a business.

Liz St Louis, Assistant Director of Smart Cities at Sunderland Council, said: “This programme echoes our ambition for the city, it is a tech startup programme for everyone in the city, no matter how early-stage their idea is, their level of experience or their background.

“It is another example of Sunderland building strong partnerships that can offer opportunities to the residents and businesses in the city.”

Over the past 12 months, the team has worked with dozens of budding entrepreneurs to develop a wide range of early-stage business ideas, from cyber security consultancies to software platforms and the development of mobile apps.

Sunderland may not be the first destination people think of when they think of fast-growing tech hubs but there’s actually so much going on here

And with the programme now firmly underway and a series of events in the pipeline to bring the city’s tech start-up community together, the team are calling on residents to get involved and find out how the support could help them bring their big ideas to life.

“Sunderland may not be the first destination people think of when they think of fast-growing tech hubs but there’s actually so much going on here,” said Michael Dunn, programme lead at Tech Startup Sunderland.

“tombola, Coatsink and Leighton are all companies that are globally renowned for the digital products and services they offer and they’re all right on our doorstep.

“The city is also about to benefit from becoming one of the UK’s first SmartCities meaning it will have the 5G connectivity, as well as the businesses, to compete with anywhere in the world.

“But to ensure the city capitalises on this, we have to ensure we unleash the ingenuity that spawned those fantastic companies and inspire others to follow in their footsteps, which is why we launched Tech Startup Sunderland."

One of the tech entrepreneurs to have benefited from the initiative is Christopher Marshall, founder of fast-growing network security consultancy, Cosmo Digital.

He said: “My business adviser not only completely understood the sector, but actually understood my business and what I was trying to achieve.

“The conversations I had were so insightful and have genuinely helped me - it's not just box ticking.

“I'd argue that one of the main reasons I am where I am today, is undoubtedly because of the programme and the connections it has helped me develop.”

Tech Startup Sunderland is delivered by Sunderland Software City and has been developed as part of Sunderland City Council’s Smart City activity, a programme designed to help boost Sunderland’s digital economy.

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