Mike Barritt, Software Cornwall Shortlisted for Lifetime Achievement Award

Mike Barritt, Director & Co-Founder of Software Cornwall shortlisted for a Lifetime Achievement Award from Tech South West

Mike Barritt, Software Cornwall Director & Co-Founder has been shortlisted for Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2021 Tech South West Awards!

In 2010, Mike Barritt was one of the founding Directors of Software Cornwall. Although not officially known as ‘Software Cornwall’ at the time, Mike was working for Oxford Innovation, and having had a background in coaching and software development, recognised the benefits of bringing like-minded entrepreneurs together to share knowledge and help their businesses grow.

It was at this time that Mike supported the early stages of what is now some of the largest software businesses in Cornwall, including Headfords and Bluefruit Software. He created a Director peer group, bringing founders together and attracted funding to develop an Agile programme for Cornwall. This programme enabled Mike to bring in experts from the Agile field, a relatively new methodology in software development at the time and completely new for Cornwall and the south-west. Not only did this facilitate the early success of Cornwall’s software companies but also enabled Mike to launch ‘Agile on the Beach’; a conference now in its tenth year, bringing 500 delegates and speakers from all over the world to Falmouth and putting Cornwall on the map for Agile.

Mike went on to join Sullivan Cuff Software Ltd as the Managing Director and kept the Director peer group going with the Directors meeting every 6 weeks. By this time, the group had grown and collectively recognised that one of the biggest barriers to growth was not being able to recruit the right talent. The lack of support from the education system in Cornwall was significant and the curriculum was not supporting the needs of the industry in terms of tech skills. 

In 2015, the peer group decided to take action and Software Cornwall was officially founded as a not-for-profit membership organisation with the mission to make Cornwall the most productive place to build software development. By 2018, Cornwall was recognised as the ‘fastest-growing tech sector in the UK’ in a report by Tech Nation, which specifically cited its “strong sense of community” as a key factor in its success. Software Cornwall’s award-winning Mission to Mars programme and Code Clubs were also recognised for boosting the local talent pipeline, enabling school children to access workshops, after school clubs and assemblies to help them gain valuable experience in coding and tech.

In addition to Mission to Mars and with the support of Software Cornwall members, partners and the local tech community, since 2017 Software Cornwall has:

  • Taken approximately 350 students through Mission to Mars 
  • Delivered Tech Jam events to over 600 individuals, providing introductory coding experiences to people of all ages 
  • Provided workshops in schools to over 800 students
  • Been present at over 50 careers fairs 
  • The reach of students in Cornwall throughout this activity is around 21,000 and that is just through assemblies carried out in schools
  • Hosted over 50 events for the tech community. 

Sullivan Cuff Software Ltd was acquired by LumiraDX and in 2019 at the age of 70, Mike retired, but he didn’t go far! Mike stepped back into a more regular role with Software Cornwall to help the organisation through its next stage of growth and over the last 2 years has secured funding from the European Social Fund to help deliver two new programmes. These are aimed at helping adults career switch into tech roles and also provide training to Cornwall-based companies looking to improve the skills of software developers and those working in tech. 

Mike has navigated the Software Cornwall team, Directors and community through the COVID-19 pandemic whilst also serving on third-party boards and committees including the CIOS Digital Skills Partnership, the South West Cyber Security Cluster and the EPIC programme supporting e-health and wellbeing. 

Toby Parkins, co-founder of Headforwards and one of the founding Directors of Software Cornwall said

“Mike single-handedly started the Agile movement in Cornwall and created visibility for Cornwall’s tech community within the south-west and UK that simply wasn’t there before. Mike helped businesses to transform and I’m certain that without him, there would be no Software Cornwall or Agile on the beach, both of which have been responsible for creating hundreds, possibly thousands of jobs in Cornwall.”

The 2021 Tech South West Awards will take place on 25th November at the Market Hall in Plymouth. Tickets are available now.