Roundup: York Technology Conference 2019

Bethan Vincent

Last week we attended the York Technology Conference, held at the University of York. Here is our a roundup of the day!

Opening Address: Brannan Coady, CEO, Netsells


“We want York to become one of the most attractive locations in the UK for technology talent & investment.”

In the opening address, Brannan laid out a bold vision for York as a leading UK technology hub, with the power to attract innovative businesses and retain talented graduates.

He also explained how Netsell’s decision to partner with York Technology Conference forms part of a wider company strategy focused on helping the technology sector thrive in the city.

Morning Talks

3 simple steps to making your first million as an IT entrepreneur - Darryl Mattocks

Darryl’s talk covered the fundamentals he believes are essential for running a digital startup, including developing three minimum viable products and testing those before deciding on the one to take to market.

Machine Learning & Data Science in Content Production for TV and Online - Robin Pembrooke

Robin’s talk led with the biggest challenge he currently faces working at the BBC - how do you bring an almost 100 year old organisation into the digitally-native 21st century. After this framing of the problem, he then went onto explain how the BBC is implementing multiple solutions such as breaking through technical and team silos, developing deeper customer insights and ensuring that it appeals to all available audiences, including those who have been traditionally overlooked.

Morning Workshops

This section of the day allowed audiences to attend a specific workshop aligned with their interests.

The workshops available were: Speed Pitching, Hands on Analytics with IBM, Management Consulting in Tech, Business Networking and The Psychology of How to Sell.

We went to: Fintech Foundations run by our very own Lead Consultant, Rob Bellingham (After all, it would have been rude to miss out on a workshop run by one of our own team members!)

rob Bellingham Fintech Foundations Workshop York Technology Conference

Drawing on his extensive experience in the payments sector, Rob’s workshop gave a solid background to the everyday processes found in Fintech solutions.

He primarily focused on data enrichment and action through exploring processes such as card payments, credit ratings and open banking protocols.  

Afternoon Workshops

The afternoon series of workshops covered topics such as Cyber Security, Product Development, Blockchain, Storytelling with Data and how to start off your career in tech.

We went to: The Lean Startup Method - how to plan your start up using one page of A4, run by Bethan Vincent, also part of the Netsells team.


In her workshop, Bethan introduced the group to the lead model canvas and explained how this framework can be used as a powerful tool when planning a start-up. The group was then tasked with coming up with their own business plan in 20 minutes using the framework.

Afternoon Talks

From Student to Practitioner: Making the Leap - Mansha Manohar

Mansha took us through her journey from Graduate to Senior UX Design Researcher at the BBC. Alongside giving a number of insights into her career path and the benefits of gaining a wide range of experience, Mansha also shared some of her thoughts about we need to ensure we ask the right questions when designing digital products and why user research is one of the most important parts of the design process.

Designing with Ethics - Ross Sleight

Currently Chief Digital Strategy Officer at Sumo, Ross has amassed over 20 years experience in designing digital products. In his talk, Ross gave an impassioned overview of of how we can design ethical businesses in the tech sector. He also delved into the psychology of app development, explaining how we currently design products which actually have a negative impact on user’s lives due to their addictive properties.

Castles in the Sky - Tim Burnett

Tim spoke about the modern Cyber Threat landscape and gave a brief overview of the current threats to our tech, including hacks by nation states and individual actors. Tim made the interesting point that in most cases, successful attacks occur due to human error, e.g. writing down passwords in a public place

As threats become more pervasive and complex, Tim argued that we will have to rely more on artificial intelligence to protect infrastructure that is increasingly based in the cloud. The vulnerability of cloud-based and inter-connected systems will be further compounded by a lack of skills in the cyber security sector as demand outstrips supply.

Panel Debate

Brannan Coady, Netsells CEO at York Technology Conference - Panel Debate

Brannan Coady - CEO, Netsells

Heather Niven - Head of Science City York

Robin Pembrooke - Director Content Production Workflow, BBC

Alex Petherick - Software Engineer, IBM

Tim Burnett - Security and Compliance Manager, Sykes Cottages

The panel responded a wide range of pre-submitted questions covering topics including cyber security, the rights of individuals over encrypted messages, the future of blockchain and most importantly, Android or iPhone. (Tweet us @Netsells with your opinion on this!)

Delivering Innovation in Emerging Technologies - Helen Bowyer

Working as part of the IBM UK Emerging Technology team, Helen shared her insights into IBM’s current work with emerging technologies. The talk covered a wide range of topics, including AI, blockchain counterfeit prevention and lattice cryptography - currently an important candidate for post-quantum cryptography.

Thank you


We would like to say a huge thank you to the York Technology Conference team, who put on an incredible day. Many of the corporate attendees (and students) were shocked to learn that this was a student-run event, such was the calibre of planning and execution.

We are incredibly proud to have been involved as the main partner and sponsor and can’t wait for the conference to return in 2020! 

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