Exchange wins Tech Accelerator of the Year at the Prolific North Tech Awards

December 6th 2023

Exchange by Department, has won Accelerator of The Year award at Prolific North Tech Awards 2023.

Accelerator award winner 2023

Exchange, the scale-up programme for fast-growing tech businesses was crowned Tech Accelerator of the Year at the Prolific North Tech Awards 2023, being recognised for its profound impact on the northern tech industry.

The accolade was awarded to the programme which has supported over 150 businesses and is based at Department Bonded Warehouse, in Enterprise City at St. John’s in Manchester, and Department Leeds Dock, based in the city’s waterside media, tech and creative district.

Three years after the initial cohort in Manchester and six months on from the first cohort in Leeds, Exchange has welcomed seven successful sets of early-stage businesses and their founders through its doors.

The programme aims to provide a community and infrastructure to ambitious start-ups to support them to grow and scale. This is delivered through its flexible workspace access in Department, a multi-disciplined syllabus of workshops, and regular investor panels, alongside support from industry and venture partners and an ever-growing mentor and advisory network.

Elizabeth Burroughs, COO of HACE said: “Exchange has significantly changed how we work in such positive ways. The community here has helped us to become more productive, and more social at work (which can be difficult as a start-up) and maintain a better work-life balance. The mentorship from the partners has been truly invaluable, it’s hard to imagine where HACE would be now without the support from Exchange!”

Supporting tech jobs in Manchester and Leeds

Within the last three years over 160 jobs have been created thanks to the programme, and the alumni have gone on to create circa 900 jobs, a strong indicator of the scheme’s success. As Exchange offers ongoing support to the tech community to encourage business growth, it continues to help local economies improve and engage more people in the tech industry.

Ben Davis, group marketing director at Praetura Group, said: “Exchange has quietly become one of the most noteworthy and respected accelerators in Manchester. A dedicated team have brought together some of the most exciting businesses in Manchester, educated them through a fantastic programme and connected them with an unrivalled adviser/partner network. Their programme is grounded and undeniably ‘Northern’ but remains globally ambitious. I do not doubt that several breakout businesses will pass through their doors”.

Supporting tech start-up funding

Through the years, Exchange’s businesses have raised a collective £13 million in funding. As a result, it has sought to expand its venture capital (VC) partner scheme and now counts 15 funds within its Venture Partners, including Playfair Capital, DSW Ventures, Solid Bond, GC Angels, Sure Valley and Haatch.

Ben Davies at Praetura Group, said: “As a Northern VC, we see Exchange as an indispensable part of the ecosystem that galvanizes the best and brightest and gives them the best launching pad possible.”

The Venture Partners have invested in over 11 businesses, with Solid Bond alone investing over £800k into Exchange companies. Additionally, in the last year mentors and advisors to the scheme have gone on to angel invest in various members, including influencer marketing platform, SoSquared.

Tech start-up mentor scheme

Exchange has established a mentor and alumni network which supports businesses and their founders from inception to realisation. The community can share their experiences and learnings from launching a tech business in recent years, in the same city and circumstances as their fellow founders.

As members now span across various sectors within the tech industry and founders come from plenty of different backgrounds, stages and experience levels, the programme’s framework needed to reflect this. In response, Exchange has launched its mentor and advisor network which is being regularly added to ensure it reflects the needs of the cohort.

Through the network, members can engage with experts from various industries and backgrounds to seek guidance on many aspects of business from recruiting and investment to technology development.

Symeon Breen, CTO at Nivo and Exchange mentor, commented: “Being a mentor at Exchange has been an incredibly rewarding experience. It’s inspiring to witness the diverse range of talents and ideas within the Northern tech ecosystem. Exchange really does provide unparalleled support and guidance to these innovative minds on their entrepreneurial journey.”

Tanya Grady, Commercial Director at All Work & Social, said: “We are so proud of all the successes to date. The incredible community of cohorts that we’ve seen through the years reflects the talent Manchester and Leeds have to offer.

“It provides an expansive inventory to support the development of businesses at varying stages of maturity, focused predominantly on those within the tech, media and creative industries. This inventory, combined with the industry support network we have generated, provides a platform for growth, among a community of like-minded and forward-thinking entrepreneurs.

“Exchange at Department plays a crucial role within the wider creative district, Enterprise City at St John’s. We understand the importance of talent and will continue to invest in and explore how best to support the ever-evolving, fast-paced world of tech, media and creative.

“We’re set to deliver an even bigger programme at Campfield Yard in 2025, in a Grade 2 listed market hall building that played a pivotal role in the Industrial Revolution. It will be the home for the city’s latest evolution centuries later.”

Join the next cohort of Exchange in Manchester or Leeds

To find out more about how you can join Exchange and be part of the next cohorts in Manchester or Leeds, visit the Exchange page on our website.

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"Bonded Warehouse is a unique environment and the team love being there. The facilities and the community team are superb and create a brilliant atmosphere for productivity and creativity. The team are always running events and there is something for everyone. It's a great way of learning something new, trying something new and meeting new people."

Ultimate Agency

“The highlight of working in Department XYZ is the support we receive from the team - there’s a real sense of community amongst members. We’re proud to work here and in one of the best locations in Manchester.”

Immediate Media

“Spinningfields and XYZ is a very professional and inspiring place to have as a business base. The best place I’ve worked from in my 30 year career.”

Spinningfields Lifetime Partners

“As a startup founder, I place significant importance on the work environment, understanding its critical role in nurturing and growing a business. My experience with XYZ has been outstanding. The dedication and exceptional efforts of the team supporting the members are commendable.”