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North East business leaders showed their support for the next generation of talent as they came together at Sage HQ for the partnership launch of the If We Can You Can (IWCYC) Challenge.

Celebrating its 10th anniversary, the IWCYC Challenge works with partners and the wider business community to unearth rich talent that is in the North East.Charlotte Windebank, managing director of FIRST Face to Face, said : “This competition is an opportunity for regional entrepreneurs to connect with each other, develop relationships and share ideas in a supportive, welcoming community of business people. Whether you’re just starting out, or looking to give back, 2018 is definitely the year to get involved.”

By offering advice and mentoring, as well as bringing the business community together to share ideas, knowledge and contacts, many businesses over the years have gone on to grow. This includes Max Haydon, founder of Storage Shepherd and winner of the Highest Growth Potential in 2017, who found that the challenge opened up many opportunities for the business.

Max said: “The If We Can You Can Challenge was an excellent opportunity to showcase the business. The whole atmosphere during the final was very supportive and I am thrilled we won.”

This year, the wealth and range of experience of IWCYC partners will be extremely beneficial to North East startups and entrepreneurs. Accelerator Partners and advocates of the challenge are Sage; a North East startup success story founded in the 1980s and who are now a FTSE 100 company.

Alan Laing, managing director of Sage UK and Ireland, added: “This is a really exciting partnership about helping entrepreneurs and small businesses within the North East. Sage would like to encourage small businesses to get involved with this initiative.”

This sentiment is shared by partners the Entrepreneurs’ Forum who want to “make the North East the best place in the UK to be an entrepreneur.” Other partners are Brewin Dolphin, Mincoffs, GetFilm, 49Digital, BQ, PNE Group and O Communications.

The competition is open to all business less than three years old and operating in any sector and in all locations across the North East, from Northumberland to Teesside.

Applications will open in May so keep an eye out on the website: or @IWCYC on Twitter.

Businesses interested in learning more about becoming a partner and supporting entrepreneurs in the region, should contact events assistant Owen Thoms by emailing or calling 07715547148.


PHOTO CAPTION (L-R): Tris Douglas (GetFilm), Samantha Sadler (O Communications), Bethany Ainsley, Elaine Stroud (Entrepreneurs’ Forum), Ellen McGann (BQ), Billie Jenkins (PNE Group), James Rainbow (Brewin Dolphin), Eve Halliday and David Smart (Sage), Charlotte Windebank (FIRST Face to Face), Alan Laing (Sage), Anthony Hall (Mincoffs), Rachel Laschke (BQ), Owen Thoms (FIRST Face to Face), Helena Hill and Peter Maughan (49Digital), Claire Fenwick (Mincoffs).

LINK TO VIDEO for online content:

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