Tech scaleup accelerator Exchange has appointed a new head after Alice Pickersgill left for business consultancy Form.

The business support programme has appointed Rich Jones to oversee operations and programme structure for its Manchester and Leeds cohorts, bringing a wealth of experience in supporting early-stage companies in the North.

Jones joins Exchange from NatWest Accelerator Leeds where he was enterprise acceleration manager for over two years. There he spearheaded initiatives to grow the Leeds tech ecosystem, supporting over 250 businesses across four cohorts.

Pickersgill has been appointed as project manager at Form, a Liverpool firm which has worked with the likes of Unilever.

“Exchange has cemented itself as one of the premier launchpads for early-stage tech companies. Now in its fourth year, it’s well respected and trusted across the industry,” said Jones. 

“But there is always more to be done. As the tech ecosystems in Manchester and Leeds continue to develop, there are new opportunities for us to expand our offerings.

“I’m looking forward to engaging more with the existing network of partners, alumni, mentors, and fellow Department members in the coming weeks and months to explore creative ways to advance the programme. 

“Having worked closely with the Leeds tech scene, I’m keen to focus on forging the connections between the two cities that make up the Northern Corridor. The quality of businesses in the two regions blows me away and I can’t wait to get hands-on.”

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Exchange was founded in 2019 to provide support, community and flexible workspace to tech startups and founders across the North.  The programme has empowered more than 450 people in the past three years, sparking over 140 jobs, with members raising more than £13m in funding.

Exchange at Department currently supports nearly 100 early-stage tech businesses across its Manchester and Leeds sites, based in Department Bonded Warehouse and Department Leeds Dock respectively. The programme’s impressive alumni include PixelMax, Financielle, Sparkbox, HACE and Housr.

Anthony Powell, managing director at Department, commented: “Rich’s experience in developing tech businesses and supporting tech founders made him the ideal person to lead Exchange in its next phase of growth. 

“Within Exchange, there is a true passion for empowering the next generation of northern tech businesses and this trait was immediately visible in Rich. With his lead and the support of the expert partner, mentor, and advisory network, I am confident we will continue to see innovative companies coming out of Exchange.”

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