MadLab’s Arts+Tech Accelerator

Update: Application deadline extended until 25th November

From the discussions the Accelerator team been having with potential participants over the past couple of weeks, it’s been made clear that there are many out there who would benefit from a bit more time in getting to grips with the application process. For this reason, MadLab have taken the decision to extend the application deadline by an extra 10 days until Wednesday 25th November.

If you have any questions, please get in touch via email or call the MadLab office on 0161 839 6324 and ask to speak to someone from the Arts+Tech team.


MadLab’s Arts+Tech is a creative practice accelerator for artists working with digital making technology. Part of a £1m pilot scheme facilitated by Arts Council England and Innovate UK, we are seeking 10 individuals (or small groups) to participate in the first round, which starts in January 2016.MadLab Arts+Tech

The purpose of the scheme is to intensify arts and technology innovation by artists, creative professionals, scientists, digital technologists, and entrepreneurs, providing them with the opportunity to strengthen their creative practice and to develop new business ventures. The programme provides a space to develop new products, services and practices, and to stimulate collaboration and business acumen.

Running from January – June 2016, the Arts+Tech accelerator will provide:

  • Bespoke creative and business development. Workshops, master classes and one-on-one practical guidance, building on MadLab’s existing programmes and in-house expertise.
  • Mentoring, drawing on MadLab’s international network of expert art-science-technologists and creative entrepreneurs.
  • 24/7 access to physical resources & studio space in the newly renovated MadLab HQ, including our digital makers workshop and community biotechnology lab.
  • Financial support for the duration of the programme, in the form of a £10,000 grant.

We will be holding a number of open sessions over the next couple of weeks to meet practitioners face-to-face, discuss the scheme and answer any questions.

Upcoming Briefing Dates

Manchester. 2nd November, 6pm
Contact Theatre. We’ll be around before and during the Digital Media Drop.

Liverpool. 6th November, 2pm—4pm
FACT (Numbers are limited for this session, please sign up here)

Salford. 9th November, 6pm-8pm
MadLab Salford, 214-216 Chapel Street (Numbers are limited, please sign uphere)

Leeds. 10th November, 6pm-8pm.
Venue TBC.

Apply now on the MadLab Accelerator website

The deadline for programme applications is 15th November 2015.

My perfect networking trio

My idea of a perfect networking evening: great contacts, good gossip and a green hanger gizmo.

It seemed slightly weird driving from Preston into Manchester for after work drinks, with a group of strangers, but hey, that’s networking for you. However, armed with my coffee, I soon found a relaxed atmosphere upstairs at Rosylee’s, thanks to the organisation of John Ardern and Anjlee Bhatt.

There was a wide range of creative and marketing people that included:

  • a film maker,
  • a photographer of alternative weddings,
  • an advertising agency director,
  • someone who creates the moodiness of TV programmes,
  • a designer of aircraft control panels,
  • a social media guru,
  • a comedian…

And it turns out, Manchester is a small world. I had worked in the same place someone’s first wife used to work. There were people who knew people I knew. We shared some stories, some gossip, some advice. And it felt not like a group of strangers, but rather more familiar.

So when I can, I’ll be back. Because the contacts were good. The gossip was good. And the green hanger gizmo? Well, I was the lucky winner of the card draw for the crap prize. Which turned out to be a rather useful mobile phone ‘shelf’ that fits around a plug.

All in all, way more than I expected to leave with.

Amanda Jackson from Tigerfish Media

Lucky Winner of the Prize Draw

Tell us bit about yourself Amanda..

I run Tigerfish PR a public relations agency in Lancashire, specialising in the manufacturing and logistics sectors.   When not PR-ing, I sing in a choir, ski and cook. Happily not all at the same time.

What made you decide to come to a Northern Soho meeting?

People can’t buy from you, if they don’t know about you… so I thought I would look for some nice people to potentially team up with, and get to share stories with businesses ‘off my home patch’.  I came across Northern Soho via networker extraordinaire, John Ardern, who I first met in St Ann’s Square, Manchester in the mid 1980s.

BarCamp Manchester 2015 – Share your passions

Update: 30 September 2015

Our roundup of blogs and resources coming out of this year’s Manchester Barcamp:

If this has piqued your interest, find out how to run your own BarCamp.


BarCamp Manchester is an annual 2 day tech unconference. While attendees predominantly hail from the tech sector, our topics also often cover all STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and maths), and much much more!

The unconference can be quite a difficult concept to grasp if you’ve never been to one before, so let me explain how it works. Imagine your average technology or business conference, you spend around £100 on a ticket, and the organisers schedule speakers who they think have something interesting to say for you to come and listen to. But what if it turns out that what the speaker has to say isn’t all that interesting?

What sometimes happens at organised conferences is that you end up having more interesting conversations with other attendees, and this became known as the lobby track. Sometimes it’s the people who attend conferences who have the most important things to say, and having a more informal setting, means that instead of being talked at, you are engaged in more of a discussion.

So here’s where the BarCamp is different. Instead of paying £100 for a ticket, you pay nothing, and instead of having a number of scheduled speakers, you have none! At a BarCamp, the attendees become the speakers, and there are lots of opportunities to step up. Anyone who comes can speak about anything they feel passionate about. You can prepare a formal talk, a workshop, a discussion, a debate or even a demonstration, and the topics that can be presented at a BarCamp are endless!

The other big aspect of the BarCamp is the fun factor! While being less strict on what topics can be covered, there are all sorts of new and interesting things you can discover at a BarCamp. We’re big on pushing the community aspect too, so all BarCamps are free to attend, with costs covered by sponsorship from companies who want to support the community and get more involved, and we have plenty of cool SWAG for you to take home too!

So if you’re still not sure if a BarCamp is for you, I’ll tell you a secret, BarCamps are for EVERYONE! If you have passion, a thirst for knowledge and a desire to get involved then the BarCamp is the perfect place for you.

BarCamp Manchester 6 will be held on the 26th and 27th September 2015 at the Auto Trader Offices on First Street in Manchester, and will be sponsored by Layershift,, Capgemini, Cyntech Components & Fedora. If you would like to join us, please grab your free ticket from Fatsoma now!

For more information, please see below;

Contact –

Website –

Twitter –

Facebook –

LinkedIn –

Why are you networking?

Why are you networking?

Do you go networking for sales opportunities, or are you ready to listen to people you meet on and offline?

Networking isn’t just face-to-face it’s online, email, dm’s and so much more. Ever since we developed ways to communicate we’ve networked, word of mouth is never going to be surpassed and never going to be put in a book or blog so that you can understand it either. Like many things in life we learn from experience.

So when do you know it’s beneficial and adding value?

It would be so easy to go along to an event expecting to get at least ten business cards and give out twenty or more. Is that really effective though? I’ve seen so many card dealers at network events and they’re always the people who work 24/7 and give 150% but don’t have time to enter the business details into a useable database or similar.

So rather than collect cards that really just go in the recycling bin we should have one thing in mind, to meet people [usually like minded] and listen to them. If you take this attitude then you will get a chance to tell people who you are and what you do too – show you care and they’ll show you they do too. Meeting people who are like-minded helps so much, why collect cards of people you have nothing in common with?

Remember; networking is about being you, but it’s not about you.

You don’t have to lie; you can be happy and can express your feelings about what you do both at work and at home. I don’t like meeting people who just work, as they don’t usually have a life or feel like they are alive but just working to get money to stop working. Much better are those who sing and dance and are animated and excited when talking about what they do.

Don’t worry you don’t have to be a performer, you just have to be you it’s the one thing nobody else can be both online and offline. I learned this from my favourite business coach Dr Seuss, you’ll get the best quotes from his books and have more fun and find things that you want to share in all his books.

Being you means you are far more likely to be remembered, trusted and talked about when someone mentions something that you’ve talked about. We share things about people we know, like and trust it’s not rocket science it natural human behaviour.

So be like you are at home, in the coffee shop or the boardroom – be someone who likes to listen and help people they meet. One thing we don’t know is the person we are going to meet next; as long as we listened to the people we have met we can share information with the new person.

There are no short cuts to building relationships and being part of a community. If it’s natural it lasts a lifetime and takes you to places you never thought of.

That for me is why I go networking on and offline.

Why not leave a comment about your networking experiences below?

Northern Soho Startup Journeys – June 9th, 2015

My first Northern Soho event and after spending an interesting and productive afternoon discussing the nuts and bolts behind the scenes, along came the evening and a wonderfully seamless networking event with some inspired speakers for the icing on the cake.

I must add that the Manchester Escalator venue was not only in keeping with my perception of what Northern Soho would be, but also what Manchester and something like this should be.

So there I was given a pen and asked to sign people in, many of who when asked happily gave a first but not last name. Not a problem as networking is about talking not selling and it gave me an opportunity to talk to most of the people who came to the event.

Beers sponsored by Barclays at the Manchester Escalator

Thanks to Barclays for the Beers!

It was good to see everyone not only talking to people they knew, but those they didn’t whilst getting a warm and friendly welcome from everyone connected to Northern Soho.

So a great turnout everyone drinking and nibbling and then seated and ready to hear some startup journey stories from some very interesting and inspiring people. I have to say after hearing and seeing all the presentations, the mix was as good as it gets with something for all and loads of crossovers too.

I’m not one for games and since trying Galaxian in 1979 haven’t really played another one, it was 20p a go back then and I didn’t have enough 20p’s to get as good as my friends and music was my preferred spend at the time. All these years on I’m always happy to listen and learn though.

Simon from Thumbfood

Simon from Thumbfood

Along came games developer Simon Smith and was an excellent first speaker of the night keeping everyone not only enthralled but thinking about how opportunities can arise from chance lift meetings to continuous research and development not alone in a dark room but with like-minded people who help each other.

Mike from Risk Box

Mike from Risk Box

How to follow that, with someone talking about insurance of course, and even better someone who had put together a slideshow and couldn’t recall what all the images referred to. Mike Henderson from Risk Box had everyone laughing and loving his every word. Enthusiasm is something many business people lack. When you listen to someone whose heart’s in what they do, how can you not want to tell more people and I’m sure Mike’s words will have been and will be shared a lot more in the future.

Ben from Language Brand Communication

Ben from Language Brand Communication

Mike is definitely someone who enjoys not only his work, but helping the people he meets and not just seeing them as statistics to fill a spreadsheet. Which could also be said of the next speaker Ben Hui  who took everyone through yet another diverse and enthralling journey of ups and downs of business and life.

I’m sure everyone leaving the event will remember things from each speaker and not just remember but be able to put what they heard in context with their own journey and story. Ben has a wonderful speaking manner and could I’m sure win any audience over by embracing them and simply being totally natural. As well as inspiring with some amazing anecdotes.

Siobhan from the Wonder Inn

Siobhan from the Wonder Inn

Ben is definitely someone who will always have friends and is always looking to enjoy what he is doing, great advice from someone filled with wisdom whilst admittedly always learning. Siobhan Lynott was the fourth speaker and although new to speaking lived up to everyone’s expectations with a great start and startup journey which made for the biggest Q&A session of the night with genuine interest and admiration for what Siobhan and her partners have done and are doing.

In a way, Siobhan’s presentation created a buffer to relax and contemplate on her journey as well as those heard throughout the evening. Which was good preparation for the final speaker Dan Sodergren who started at 100mph and didn’t stop and also didn’t lose anyone while inspiring and provoking more thinking and talking about the ups and downs of starting a business, as well as maintaining and keeping it growing.

Dan from Follogro

Dan from Follogro

Dan mentioned quite a lot of things in his 60+slides, but one thing that stuck with me was an obstacle many in business come across and need to get over or go around or simply conquer. The obstacle being our own ‘brains’, all too often we put things in the way of our own progress. Dan discussed practical solutions from his experiences alone and with work colleagues.

Best line of the night inevitably from Dan:

‘…don’t become an arsehole, make choices that make sense….’

A wonderful night topped off with more networking drinks and pizza, but as I was talking too much I missed the pizza and then had a nice jog down Deansgate for the train feeling like Usain Bolt.

>> Northern Soho Startup Journeys – Download the Slides <<

Post-event PizzaPost-event Pizza

Events like these are memorable and should continue online in-between each meetup. Hopefully, I’ll see more Northern Soho members at the next event if I don’t bump into them online before then.

In the meantime, download the PowerPoint slides and check out the Storify of tweets.

5 Benefits of Working in Collaborative Projects

During my first 8 months of freelancing, I have learned some important lessons. And one of them is learning how to collaborate. I’ll admit, when I first started as a freelancer, my main concern was to find clients and to build a strong portfolio. I actually saw no benefits in collaborating.

But that all changed when I went to my first Northern Soho Mentor Meetup, 7 months ago, and I was challenged by John Ardern to produce a children’s ebook with Barbara Lino, an illustrator and graphic designer, which teaches 7-year-olds how to play chess.

Barbara, who is originally from Portugal, has enjoyed creating illustrations and graphic design as far back as she can remember and in time, has built a very a diverse portfolio.

Fast forward to this present day and we’re still working on this project. We’ve also managed to add Luke Perkin, an animator/programmer, to our little team to explore the possibilities of creating videos with the chess pieces.

Luke has been programming since the age of 13. He is extremely passionate about games and taught himself C++/C, C#, Lua and Java.

In the 7 past months, whilst working on this project, I have realised that you can gain so much from by working on a collaborative project. In this post, I have identified 5 benefits that I have learned whilst working on this task:

  1. You’ll come up with new ideas.

    It is much easier to brainstorm and come up with new ideas when you are working in collaboration. And another plus to this is that when you exchange different ideas with each other, you get instant feedback.

  2. You learn how to build better personal/professional relationships

    When working with different people, you will learn that everyone is different. So it is important that we compromise and make the effort to get to know our collaborative partner a bit better. The better we get on well with our collaborative partner(s), the more productive we work as group, and the project will get completed much quicker.

  3. You become a better networker

    While we were working our project, my collaborative partner, Barbara, had come up with a good idea to create some animations to coincide with the book. Since we are both not animators, we knew we needed to get someone who has experience in this field.

    So we spoke to a couple of animators and we eventually met Luke Perkin. When we spoke to Luke about the project, he was very keen to come on board and help us with this project.

  4. You develop good project management skills

    While I was working on this project, I have learnt that people will have their own unique ways of approaching their work. So it was important for us to stay on the same page and we achieved this by holding regular meetings to review our objectives and to keep everyone informed of our progress.

  5. You gain more access to different resources.

    This is something that I’ve recently noticed. When you work with different people, they each have access to their own variety of resources. To give you an example, Luke Perkin has access to relevant software for creating animations and also knows fellow animators who can share and exchange ideas. Each of us is able to provide a unique input to the project.


If you haven’t been involved in collaborative projects before, you really should give it a go. There many lessons that you can learn and plenty of experiences to gain.

Our 5 Top Tips on Getting Creative

We’ve all been there. One day we have more work than we know what to do with and the next we’re sitting twiddling our thumbs. While we all want to catch up on our Netflix roster it may be more beneficial to keep the creative juices flowing. Here are some thoughts on how to keep your talents fresh while you work through those dips in creativity.

  1. Read up!! Whether you take to your trusty old laptop, tablet, or even take a trip over to your local library; there are articles published every single day about new things going on in our design & technical world. It’ll only help you if you know what’s coming into trend. My favourite blog (aside from this one of course) is Creative Bloq and it’s one of the top sites out there for creative news, tips and inspiration. Trust me you will easily get lost in all of the creative articles on there!
  2. Learn! Take every opportunity you can to learn a new skill or try something different. Time to stop by your favourite art store and start playing! Take your camera out for a stroll! Go! Be adventurous!
  3. NETWORK! No matter what anyone says it’s always about who you know! Someone will always recommend their friend for a position over a complete stranger. We use to publicise our events for Northern Soho and we’re not the only ones.  There are lots of local groups on Meetup, so sign up and check out what’s going on in your area. Whether you join a business or professional group, or look for something that has a more social or creative focus is entirely up to you.  Finding a job in the creative field will be easier if you attend a creative group meeting, but opportunities come in all shapes and sizes. It’s the people and relationships that really matter the most.  So, maybe this could be a good chance to try that new skill you learned in #2!
  4. Keep your skills sharp! Try websites like or DesignCrowd to keep your portfolio fresh. Granted you don’t always want to be creating artwork for free, but it is a good way to stay fresh and plump up your portfolio if you can’t think of your own projects.
  5. Get involved! Join a design development community like Tavern or Desinion to pass on your skills and give valuable feedback to your colleagues.

The best thing to do when you’re between projects or jobs is to stay positive! Remember that opportunities really do come in all shapes and sizes and while you may normally turn down a simple small job from a client, that one small job could turn into something much bigger and more fulfilling in the future.

New Year’s Resolutions

A new year, a new year’s resolution…for designers and creatives, each new year brings a defining moment that affects our ideas, assumptions and even the way we are perceived by our friends, colleagues and audiences.

Every year we hear of what was “hot” last year and where design or trends will be heading this year. For a few weeks around that point in time when a single digit rolls forward and we start the new year afresh, opinion pieces are plastered over so many different websites, newspapers, magazines and social media networks and, while interesting, this really misses the point of a new year.

Is it really fair to say that as of January 1st everything from the previous 12 months is no longer “hot” or “fresh”?  Can someone with a different style who does not meet industry expectations or fit into a nicely defined category really not be a top professional in their field?

I think that what everyone should focus on with the starting of a new year is how to become “better” than they were last year. Maybe, instead of looking out for the “next big thing”, we should look out for the next big personal improvement?

This could be anything from learning a new trick in Photoshop, watching a new tutorial once a week, to taking on an art project that we’ve always wanted to do. I would even go so far to say that taking a walk in the park or going somewhere new could be a great personal improvement.

Northern Soho members all commit to devoting at least 12 hours a year to the group. Now, part of that commitment is achieved through attending group events and collaborating with other group members, but equally valid is undertaking personal development challenges and sharing your experiences with the group.  If you would like to further your portfolio or develop your writing skills this year, I’d love to challenge you to writing a post for the Northern Soho blog!

The New Year should bring about a chance to try something new without forgetting what the old has done for us. December 31st may seem like a long time ago, but 2014 has taught us many lessons and provided a foundation for us to build on. So, come December 31st, 2015, we can look back and see our personal, artistic, and design improvements, not just the overall market trends and design fads that we have to adhere to.

The Fresh Results Are All In!

This past Friday marked the end of the waiting game for our three short-listed entries and the chance to see who really knocked our socks off!

All three of our talented shortlisters were invited to attend the annual Fresh Creative Awards held at the Hilton Hotel on Deansgate in Manchester City Centre. Accompanying them were three of the five judges from the Northern Soho team: John Ardern, Anjlee Bhatt, and Kristi Mickaliger.

Our MC for the evening was Mallory Lewis and Lamb Chop who provided a night full of song and laughter. The evening started out with a social mixer, which was followed by a sit down dinner and the opportunity to take part in a sock puppet making competition in honour of Lamb Chop.

The winner was fully entitled to their bragging rights for the evening and thanks to the fabulous photos from Fluke Photography, you can take a look at some of the amazing creations that were put together!

Finally, it was time to start the awards ceremony! With various categories before us, we all sat in awe of the Fresh Award winners and their gorgeous artistic submissions. When it was finally our turn, you could cut the tension at the table with a knife!

The Northern Soho Award for Collaboration went to Thumbfood Ltd for their City Runner Advergaming project commissioned by Manchester City Football Club, leaving SheSays Manchester and our Creative Workshops entry from Creative Discovery and Steve Carter Personal Development as our exceptionally worthy runners up.

The night ended with a DJ and dancing while everyone said goodnight and started thinking about their submissions for next year. The Northern Soho Committee is already working on plans for next year and we look forward to seeing all of your great submissions!

Thank you again to the Fresh Awards for this incredible opportunity to highlight the amazing work being done by Northern Soho members and especially to all the entrants that made our job of choosing a winner so difficult!

Congratulations again to Thumbfood, you really knocked our socks off with all your hard work!

Check back on the info from our Fresh Awards Competition 2014.

NorthernSoho MentorMatch Relaunch

NorthernSoho is a voluntary not-for-profit group of creatives and marketing people mainly in the Greater Manchester/North of England area (not just the Northern Quarter!). We have been established for 4 years now, and have 800 members across the spectrum of creative, media, marketing and digital services, ages, genders, levels of expertise and experience, etc. Our major objective is to encourage exchange of ideas and information, friendships and collaborations across the creative spectrum, especially amongst freelancers, small agencies and start-up entrepreneurs.

The NorthernSoho MentorMatch scheme has been established for nearly 3 of those years, following consultation with our members about what services and support they need to help them start and develop their businesses. The ethos is for older/more experienced people to help and support those who are younger/less experienced in business (and in life!). This has been a tremendous success so far, and we have helped around 50 individuals and businesses through coaching and mentoring support.

We are planning to re-launch the whole service on Thursday 29th May. This will include all the new and extra Mentors and also some new services and fun. Jess will be running our freestyle drawing competition again and this month’s theme is

Drawing Bonanza

The re-launch is being sponsored by Justaxi – an innovative taxi price comparison service – who will be offering free taxi rides to anyone in the Greater Manchester area who wants to attend the Re-launch Meetup on 29th May. This means saving on petrol, driving, parking, etc. – as well as enabling you to socialise, have a drink, meet new friends more easily.