50,000 software posts are waiting to be filled

AROUND 50,000 software development jobs are waiting to be filled across the North of England, according to a senior figure at a technology investment bank.

Hugh Campbell

Hugh Campbell, the Manchester-based founder and managing partner of GP Bullhound, believes Northern technology firms must work harder to ensure local graduates fill these roles.

Mr Campbell told The Yorkshire Post: “The North has a powerful local private equity community. The community in Manchester and Leeds is larger than many capital cities, and is becoming increasingly educated in technology. We also have fantastic tax breaks to support the start-ups.

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“The challenge regionally is that we have a lack of locally run and managed venture capital. We need to educate the international investor community that there is life beyond London.

“We’re not short of ammo, we need help from the media to explain to the world how well we have done.”

Last year, leading industry figures warned that Yorkshire must do more to promote the strengths of its technology sector if it wants to attract the attention of major investors.

Speaking at The Yorkshire Post Business Club, Chris Spencer, the chief executive of the clinical software provider EMIS Group, said there was a North-South divide in terms of accessing finance for tech businesses.

Yesterday, Mr Campbell said that many Southern-based investors don’t have a network in the North “or a local community of people they know”.

He added: “With a stronger message we can get money on the move from London and elsewhere.

“Things are changing and changing quite fast. For example, JMI, a dedicated software investor based in Baltimore, in the US, has just invested $50M in Avecto [a security software firm] in Manchester.”

Mr Campbell has spent the last 15 years advising and investing in fast-growing technology firms. He has worked with many European growth equity funds, and has sold businesses to Real Networks, Tesco and Disney.

Mr Campbell, who has also worked in China, returned to his investment banking roots when he co-founded GP Bullhound. He opened the firm’s Manchester office in 2013.

He added: “If you have a strong business and it is well marketed, the money will find it.

“One of the things I noticed when I returned to the North was that the entrepreneurs were of high quality but they seem to lack a set of relationships between themselves and the other technology entrepreneurs and CEOs in the region.”

Mr Campbell acknowledged that Tech North, a Government-funded initiative that aims to speed up the development of the North’s tech sector, has played a role in bringing these firms together.

He added: “One of the things I would like to see is the local tech companies feeling a responsibility to pass on their learnings to the next generation. There’s a misconception that you need to leave [the North] to achieve.”

Mr Campbell stressed there was no lack of opportunity in the North, with around 50,000 vacancies in software development waiting to be filled.

He added: “We need to work harder to make sure the region’s tech graduates stay around and fill these roles.”

Mr Campbell made the comments at the launch of the Northern Tech Awards, which have attracted a judging panel that includes Sir Terry Leahy, the former CEO of Tesco, and Richard Flint, CEO of Sky Betting and Gaming.

GP Bullhound, the technology investment bank, is calling on the North’s finest technology companies to enter the Northern Tech Awards.

The technology awards ceremony will recognise the Top 50 Fastest Growing Technology Companies in the North, and highlight the tech stars of the future.

This year’s judging panel includes Sir Terry Leahy, the private investor and former CEO of Tesco; and Sherry Coutu, the serial entrepreneur and chair of the Scale-Up Institute.

The award winners will be announced at an invitation-only dinner at The Titanic Hotel, in Liverpool, on March 23 2016. For more information visit: http://northerntechawards.com/enter-2016/