A festival of technology that was only launched two years ago is about to make a return as a global gathering with industry leaders jetting in from the United States and the Middle East to highlight Hull and Humber’s worldwide connections.
Tech Week Humber, which takes place as a hybrid event from November 8-12, will cover all business sectors and will have a strong emphasis on education, with two days dedicated to delivering workshops for students.
The centrepiece of the programme on Tuesday, November 9, will be the Tech Expo, a full-day programme of events at Hull’s Bonus Arena featuring presentations from some of the biggest names in tech including IBM, Google, Microsoft and Apple and with local businesses launching innovative new tech products.
Antonio Tombanane (left), founder of Tech Week organiser GBE Connect, said: “Tech Week was launched in 2019 to showcase innovation from the Humber and to partner with the international tech community, and it is now recognised as a global technology festival which will be attended by the world’s most influential tech brands.”
Education will be a priority throughout the week with Google Digital Garage presenting an online session on Monday, November 8, about writing for social media and a closing event on Friday, November 12, about how to build a CV.
Education days will take place on Wednesday and Thursday at Wilberforce College in Hull with a series of workshops presented by organisations including IBM, Connexin, Yorkshire Water, the HEY LEP and Hull City Council.
Tech Expo will open with a breakfast event presented by Welcome to Yorkshire and delegates will have the opportunity during the day to hear from more than 30 speakers including Ahmed Bin Sulayem, chairman and CEO of headline partner the Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC).
Antonio said: “Landing DMCC as a headline partner is a real coup – a government entity which is the biggest free trade zone in the world with more than 19,000 businesses. We have been in discussions for the last two or three years and they recognise we are trying to open up the Humber and our technology to the world.
“They are coming here as part of the effort to strengthen the trade ties between the UK and UAE and now we have got to show them what we can do. They will be meeting the LEP, local authorities and business leaders and we will be looking to benefit from the £10 billion investment which the UAE recently committed to the UK.”
Diversity is also on the Tech Expo agenda. Texas-based Melissa Sassi will join a women in tech panel in her role as chief penguin of student and entrepreneur experience within the IBM Z division of IBM and global head of IBM Hyper Protect Accelerator.
Dr Sassi quoted research which found that less than 30 per cent of the tech workforce are made up of women compared with half the overall workforce and less than three per cent of venture-funded startups are women.
She said: “Profitability of firms increases when women leaders have a seat at the table. We must all foster career paths for women in tech, as there is no difference between the capabilities and strengths of women in the workforce compared to their male counterparts. As a woman in tech and tech startup founder, I encourage us all to look beyond existing biases and rise up to break the glass ceiling that continues to impact half the tech workforce.”
Hull-based ultra-fast broadband provider Connexin and Hull City Council have lined up alongside DMCC as Tech Week’s headline partners.
Alex Yeung, founder and COO of Connexin, said: “Tech Week Humber is a brilliant chance for the region to showcase its tech talent and celebrate the growth and achievements that it has made with regards to digital innovation.
“As a company founded and based in Hull, we are committed to investing in the area’s digital development and its continued success, as seen with our recently announced roll-out of a new full fibre network across Hull and East Riding. Tech Week Humber is an event that shares this same drive and commitment, and we can’t wait for what’s in store and to be a part of the festival.”
Mark Jones, director of regeneration at Hull City Council, said the event would provide an opportunity to build on the city’s recognition in the 2021 Tech Nation report as sixth highest in the UK for venture capital investment with significant infrastructure investment building on the full fibre coverage already present and the location with the lowest cost for start-ups.
He said: “Tech Week Humber is an important event that enables the area to showcase to a global audience the developments that are taking place within tech locally.
“We will be highlighting the commercial advantages available to tech businesses locating in the city as well as the programmes of support available to existing businesses, how the Council is transforming the delivery of its services using technology and the opportunities for local people to develop new digital skills.”
Antonio added: “We’ve managed to get people here from all over the world because we didn’t take no for an answer and because they recognise they can come to Hull and reach a global audience.”