Local teams challenged to create tech firm in three days

Start-ups and entrepreneurs are being challenged to build and launch a start-up in 54 hours following the success of the last three years of Sync the City.

The sold out event, run by the University of East Anglia (UEA) and SyncNorwich, gives entrants a chance to pitch their business concepts to leading industry figures and win prizes of £4000 as well as three month hot-desking at St George's Works and one year associate membership of Norfolk Network.

Bringing together Norfolk's entrepreneurs, product developers, software developers, designers and digital creatives, with students from UEA, teams will aim to develop innovative start-ups. 

The event gets going with individuals presenting initial pitches which must last no more than one minute for each pitch.  Teams are then formed and over the next two days build their business before presenting to the judging panel on the final evening.

The mixed business and student teams will then pitch their ideas to a panel of high-profile judges including panel chair, Ian Watson from Start-Rite.  Ian said: "I am really proud to be asked to be a part of such a worthwhile scheme. Sync the City supports local talent, bringing together all sorts of experienced leaders that can draw upon both career highs and lows, in helping mentor and steer those starting out in business. I'm looking forward to meeting the contestants and hearing their business ideas. Recognising talent and encouraging that to thrive is of ultimate importance for future industry competitiveness."

Mentors from tech businesses are on hand to help in the development over the three days, they include Neil Osmond, founder of Earthware, Dom Davis, CTO and Co-Founder of Tech Marionette, Tom Wood, Managing Partner of Foolproof and Hayley Johnson COO of Epos Now.

Pro-Vice Chancellor of Research and Innovation Fiona Lettice said: “Sync the City is a challenging but fun way of creating a tech business from scratch and meeting some of the best and brightest in the industry. It has been running since 2014 and has grown into a really popular event. Norfolk is already home to a rapidly growing number of technology innovators who are turning their creative ideas into real business and this event encourages the next generation of local tech companies."

One of last year participants, George Davis, will be speaking at the event about his own success from taking part in Sync the City. George teamed up with Billy Kabubi at the event to form SenLab, a program to help small and medium-sized enterprises make commercial decisions. The firm now has six employees and is based in London and Norwich.

SyncNorwich was founded in 2012 as a virtual community to support the growing digital economy in and around Norwich and is now one of the biggest and most active tech meet-up groups outside of London. SyncNorwich has over 900 members, of which approximately 50% are software developers and architects, 20% are founders, entrepreneurs, directors or investors and 20% are project managers or others. 

Founder of Sync Norwich John Fagan said: “Sync the City is now in its fourth year and we are delighted to be hosting this year’s event in Norwich Cathedral for the first time. I have always wanted to host a tech event in one of our historic buildings and what better represents our local heritage than Norwich Cathedral!

“This year tickets sold out in just 9 days, with a particularly strong uptake from local companies. This highlights the fantastic support for the growing Norwich tech sector from a range of businesses across different sectors, not just tech.

“As well as a fun start-up event, Sync the City is a great opportunity to collectively accelerate our learning and build new relationships for the benefit of all Norfolk businesses and organisations, including our Universities and colleges.”

Sync the City runs from 23 to 25 November at the Hostry in Norwich Cathedral.

The event’s main sponsors are Aviva and Epos Now and supporting sponsors from Barclays, Earthware, Norfolk County Council, Purple Tuesday and TechEast.