The Big Chip Awards, as a not-for-profit venture, were created with the sole purpose of highlighting all that is great about working in the digital tech sector up North. And, almost 20 years on, it’s safe to say we’re fulfilling our mission as we’ve awarded over 350 businesses for producing digital excellence in an evolving range of categories, spanning several tech and digital disciplines. The awards give recognition and acclaim to deserving businesses in the region who are doing something different to their competitors when it comes to digital.

 

Gilbert Corrales, CEO at Leaf.fm, knows a thing or two about the prestige of winning a Big Chip; “Winning any award, and the subsequent press exposure, is always good but when we clinched both the Best Start-Up and the Grand Prix Big Chip Awards last year, it really put us on the map with potential clients and employees in the region. In truth, it was totally unexpected but extremely well-received and definitely helped boost our brand awareness in the North. Winning an award like a Big Chip underscores to you and your team that you’re on the right path and onto something special.”

 

The Big Chips shatter the illusion that the North is lagging behind the affluent and more advanced Southern region by shining a light on the businesses doing something great with digital year after year. That said, patting ourselves on the back is still something us Northerners need to work on as Corrales explains; “There’s a stoicism and pride that permeates Northern England, which is part of its charm, but it means that businesses up here don’t shout about themselves enough. This is part of the reason why the North doesn’t receive as much kudos as other places in the UK which is why the Big Chip Awards is so important – it does the shouting for these businesses. We must be mindful that the North has always been at the forefront of cutting-edge technology, with Joseph Swan, a born and bred Northerner, giving us the first ever light bulb moment – literally! It’s high time we steer the conversation about the UK’s growing tech sector away from London-centric rhetoric and be more vocal about the North’s offering.”

 

The digital and tech sector may be growing but the Northern warmth and sense of community is steeped fundamentally in the culture of the region, resulting in what Corrales calls a “genuine community spirit” amongst businesses. But it goes beyond this; “The North and the digital sector are made for each other. They share the same intrinsic values of community spirit, innovation and the building of cultural movements. The North is a place that drives its own economy and happiness regardless of what’s going on around it”, said Corrales.

 

Looking to the future of the North’s digital tech sector, Corrales wants to see more backing from local authorities; “It’s massively important that councils right across the North now put their full support behind the digital sector and push private landlords to offer more flexible tenancy options for start-ups and SMEs. The holy trinity of tech is people, place and profile. The first two are covered, we just need to galvanise a compelling global-facing profile for the North as a leading destination for digital innovation. We did it with the industrial revolution, we just need an update for the 21st century”.

 

If you’re interested in learning more about Leaf.fm and its mobile-first community of music fans, you can visit its website here: http://www.leaf.fm/

 

And, if that’s all music to your ears, and you’re based in anywhere south of Scotland but north of Derby, you can enter Big Chips here.