Sync The City – Build and Launch a Start-Up in 54 Hours for Fun or Profit

October 27, 2014  |  Disruptive Innovation, Innovation

John Fagan and I have been working together again to put on another big Norwich event, similar to TechCrunch Visits Norwich in 2013. This time, we are challenging entrepreneurs, product developers, software developers, designers, digital creatives along with students from the University of East Anglia and Norwich University of the Arts to form teams to build and launch an innovative start-up in just 54 hours.  We have called this event Sync The City.

Sync the City, a collaboration between SyncNorwich, HP, the University of East Anglia and Norfolk County Council, aims to help place Norwich firmly on the tech community map over three days in November 2014.


Participants will arrive on Thursday night (20th November 2014) and Emma Swift of TechCity UK – which champions the digital and technology industry in the UK and internationally – will give a keynote presentation about what makes a successful tech cluster and how different clusters can work together to make the whole UK a digital hub for innovation.  Participants will then pitch their start-up ideas in 1 minute slots.  Over drinks and some networking, teams will form around the ideas and the start-up process begins!

Friday and Saturday the teams will work together supported by a great line up of mentors including: Ha Cole, Enterprise Architect at Microsoft; Ben Riches, Digital Integration Director at Aviva; Ali Clabburn, Managing Director & Founder of and Ben Taylor, CEO & Co-founder of Rainbird.

On Saturday night, at the end of the event, there will be an endnote presentation by Neil Garner of Proxama.  Then the mixed business and student teams will pitch their ideas, for a chance to win a £3000 prize, to a panel of high-profile judges including: Anastasia Emmanuel from crowdsourcing platform Indiegogo, Jon Bradford from TechStars and local investors James Duez and Tim O’Shea. The presentations, judging and prizegiving are open to members of the public, with the award presentation concluding the event.

John and I have been quoted in the local press as saying: “Norfolk is already home to a rapidly growing number of technology innovators turning their creative ideas into real business, and Sync the City will bring together the strength of Norwich’s tech community in one place. The judges and mentors can offer real-life advice whilst we hope the competition will kick start the developments of the next generation of Norfolk tech companies.” And “Start-up weekends are a global movement in the tech community.  They prove it really is possible to create a tech business from scratch in 54 hours. Sync the City is a platform to bring people together from public, private and education sectors to collaborate in small teams and have fun.  If the teams come up with an amazing product concept and prototype, then that would be the cherry on the cake.”


Photo: John Fagan

Patrick Stephenson, HP General Manager Digital Norfolk Ambition Partnership, said: “HP is delighted to be a sponsor and active participant of Sync the City. I am excited about the disruptive innovation this event will drive and collaboration amongst local entrepreneurs, SME’s, public sector and private sector organisations such as HP.”


Cllr Bev Spratt, Chairman of Norfolk County Council’s Economic Development Sub Committee, said: “Norfolk, and Norwich in particular, has a thriving community of excellent ICT and digital creative businesses. The sector is strongly supported by our two Universities which produce dozens of high quality graduates every year. I hope, by supporting this event, we can help some of those graduates to become entrepreneurs of the future.”

SyncNorwich was founded in 2012 as a virtual community to support the growing digital economy in and around Norwich and is now one of the biggest and most active tech meet-up groups outside of London. SyncNorwich has over 900 members, of which approximately 50% are software developers and architects, 20% are founders, entrepreneurs, directors or investors and 20% are project managers or others.

Sync the City will be held at the King’s Centre, King Street in Norwich from 20-22 November. Participants will pay £25 to enter which will include food and refreshments throughout.

The event has been funded by HP, Norfolk County Council, NEMODE (New Economic Models in the Digital Economy), Rainbird and the University of East Anglia.  Thanks also to Purple Tuesday and Everpress for their website and design work.

To register

Anyone wishing to be part of a start-up team for the whole event, or interested in being an audience member on Saturday night only (free entry), can register and get tickets at The website includes information about the agenda, judges and mentors, or contact the UEA Events team with any queries by emailing

Press Coverage of Sync The City so far: