Case study: Dynamo North East – Flying the flag for the North East tech economy

Dynamo is a membership organisation made up of tech companies, large North East employers, consultants, technology hubs, education providers, local government, and suppliers. Their mission is to achieve regional tech growth, promote the North East externally, develop skills and education, and support regional research and development and team at Dynamo believes that there is no limit to the North East’s tech potential. That’s where we come in. Ten years after BeaconHouse Events delivered the first-ever Dynamo conference, in 2023 we now curate and deliver a number of flagship events every year and have become a trusted partner of the Dynamo board and directors.

How it started

Dynamo was our very first BeaconHouse client back in 2014 and we have worked with the team ever since to deliver world-class events designed to grow and connect the North East tech scene, with a focus on collaboration, innovation, and skills. Back in 2014, the Dynamo founder approached us to develop and deliver their first annual conference.  ‘Dynamo 14’, was expected to attract 200 delegates, but a combination of vision, teamwork, persistence, and determination resulted in over 350 attendees coming together to discuss the future of the North East tech economy. Not only that, the BeaconHouse team delivered a programme of 80 speakers, doubled the sponsorship target, and created a complex and well-received programme that we have continued to build on year after year.

Flash forward and we have gone on to bring to life an increasingly busy events programme across the year, including the highly-anticipated Dynamites Awards, held right here in the North East each November.

What we deliver 

Across the year the Dynamo account team researches, develops, and delivers a wide range of events to excite, celebrate, and shout about the achievements of tech and IT businesses operating across the North East. This includes:

The Dynamites Awards     

Now in its 10th year, the annual Dynamites awards are a staple in the North East tech calendar. It’s a chance to celebrate the top talent in the North East’s IT and technology and regularly attracts over 500 guests, filling the Banqueting Hall at Newcastle Civic Centre. The team at BeaconHouse Events provides event marketing, guest booking and management, sponsorship generation and relationship management, budget management and cost control. Together with the management of the judging process, script writing, and production, production of staging and AV, venue management and liaison, and venue dressing. Months of planning go into making this a night to remember. In 2017 we introduced the ‘People’s Choice’ Award to the evening, putting the power in the hands of the regional community to choose their winner. The hugely popular online vote received almost 1300 votes in just 4 days, but it was host Daymon Britton who stole the show, stepping on-stage in a pair of orange speedos after a creative piece of theatrics thought-up by the BeaconHouse team left him ‘racing’ towards the event…

Year after year we challenge ourselves to outperform the previous event and ensure that the Dynamites have a lasting effect on the North East tech landscape.

Annual Dinner 

2023 heralded the 7th (two missed due to Covid) Dynamo Dinner, and every year it has been the go-to networking event of the spring season in the tech community. With over 120 guests attending each year, the Dynamo Dinner is a true celebration of the North East’s thriving tech sector and a chance for guests to network and connect with others in the industry. Over the years we have taken over some of the most iconic venues in the North East, including The Mansion House, Wylam Brewery and Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art – creatively using each space to inspire people to share ideas, collaborate, and build new relationships. BeaconHouse is responsible for the execution of the event from start to finish, including finding the perfect venue, creating a vibrant menu, and curating experiences to surprise and delight guests throughout the evening.

Dynamo Conference

From 2014-2022 we worked with Dynamo to research, set up, launch, manage, and deliver the hefty annual conference in the Northeast. The event attracts hundreds of delegates each year from the region’s leading and growing IT and software companies, local councils, specialist professional services, universities/colleges, and other related industries to help shape the IT and tech sector in the region. Traditionally held in person, the conference shifted to a fully virtual approach in 2020 to allow for maximum engagement from Dynamo members across the region. Speakers and attendees were able to connect in the comments and during breaks take time to view the Expo booths and speed network. The content was recorded and made available shortly after the conference for delegates and members to experience all of the content from the day. Overall the team at BeaconHouse managed over 915 minutes of content, 77 speakers and over 200 attendees, and 10k impressions online it was a fantastic showcase for tech in the region! In 2021 we went for a hybrid format allowing people to come back together in smaller numbers, or join virtually to allow for maximum comfort and flexibility.

The evolution of TechNExt

In 2023, after 9 successful years of bringing the Dynamo community together, BeaconHouse led the strategy and vision to create a more impactful, more purposeful and more engaging festival for the north east tech sector. By creating the value proposition and pitching this to Dynamo directors the team secured headline sponsorship and curated and project managed a programme of events delivered across the north east region, over a week.


Alongside the delivery of the events, the team leads sponsorship generation for the larger events in the annual Dynamo programme, namely the Board Dinner, Conference, and Awards. The commercially successful nature of the key events that we deliver ensures the longevity of our relationship and gives the potential for further growth in the future, including expanding the cluster events programme to give even more people access to inspiration and ideas.

Due to the nature of the client’s work in the North East, most events are delivered here in the region. However, the impact of Dynamo on the tech landscape of the North East has meant that we have created events that have been hosted in London, including a Cluster Launch at The House of Lords!

Working together

As well as planning and delivering the Dynamo events portfolio, the BeaconHouse Events team supports on a strategic level and works alongside the Dynamo North East board to identify the vision and aims for each year, curating and evolving the event programming to fulfill the required achievements. The Dynamo team takes the lead from our experts and is incredibly receptive to new technology and innovations being incorporated into events, allowing us to push the boundaries of what is possible and deliver new and exceptional delegate experiences, even after a decade of working together. From evaluating events live using technology to adding a Peoples Choice selection to the Dynamites Awards, the Dynamo confidently trusts BeaconHouse’s expertise and we can’t wait to see what the future has in store for our partnership.

What the client says 

“Tech has historically been thought of as a sector in and around London and Dynamo is here to change that assumption. There are such great companies and great success stories here in the North East and BeaconHouse Events play a key role in making sure that the region, the UK, and the rest of the world are paying attention.

“Over the past ten years, BeaconHouse Events has been integral in making Dynamo the success that it is today. They have established themselves as an indispensable extension of our team and continue to work closely with the board to craft a full programme of self-sustainable member networking events for 10 years. Two of the stand-out events BeaconHouse have taken from concept to delivery are the hugely anticipated Dynamo Dinner, and always sold out Dynamites Awards. Working closely with the Board, BeaconHouse has been instrumental in gaining additional funding for Dynamo, allowing the expansion of the core Dynamo team, and evolution of the North East tech calendar, including our major annual celebration – TechNExt.  .

Dynamo’s future includes an enhanced number of events to encourage networking and collaboration; more perks and benefits for members, and new attempts to get more people to celebrate the successes of the region’s tech sector we are excited to work with Sarah, Sophie and the whole BeaconHouse team as we continue that journey.”

David Dunn, CEO of Dynamo and Sunderland Software City 


What makes a great awards ceremony host?

Without proper thought and a bit of creative thinking, awards ceremonies have the potential to lose momentum after dinner has been served and the drinks are flowing. While it is tempting to opt for the tried and tested favourites for these kinds of events, for the Dynamites Awards 2023, we wanted to change the format slightly and have two co-hosts, your traditional regular-on-radio-four comedian to warm, the audience, and a host who brought something different, would be a break from the norm, and could captivate over 450 of the brightest, and best tech minds in the region. Enter, Duncan Leatherdale. Duncan is an award-winning journalist and writer working for the BBC in the North East, and we knew that he would be the perfect fit for the 10th annual Dynamites Awards, as our ‘roving reporter’ bringing the action to the tables throughout the ceremony. We chose Duncan because of his ability to hold people’s attention with his lighthearted interview techniques, to keep the room energised, and to ensure the packed evening schedule ran smoothly with some fun along the way.

Speaking about his experience of hosting Dynamites 2023, Duncan said, “Being involved in the Dynamites was a real pleasure from start to finish. Considering the number of guests and awards, the whole thing ran super smoothly and everyone involved was welcoming, friendly, and, most importantly, fun. You could say the Dynamites went off with a bang!”

Despite being his first time hosting the event, feedback on Duncan’s ability to engage and entertain the audience was fantastic, and it got us thinking about what makes a fantastic event host. We asked the team what they thought…

Stage presence 

Some people just have a natural charisma and you can tell they were just born to be on a stage. They can make everyone in the room feel included and can hold people’s attention among a whole host of distractions (including alcohol!). A host who can create a positive atmosphere and pick up a crowd when there is a lull in the evening is gold dust. If they have a passion for what they are doing, it can be contagious!

Poise under pressure 

Live events can be stressful for those working them, and there is always the opportunity for something to go awry. Choose an event host that you are confident would remain professional and collected in the face of something unexpected – which can happen more often than you think (a great host will just make the audience never know there was an issue). They should be a great time manager and be aware of keeping the schedule moving to pace; work closely with them in advance to discuss the flow of the event, timings of speeches, and how to transition between segments and then trust them to do the rest.

Great communication skills 

A great communicator will have the ability to connect with the audience on a personal level. Find someone who is articulate, well-spoken, and can convey sometimes complex information about the businesses in the room in a clear and accessible way. There is nothing worse than a disinterested host who has their nose stuck in their note cards for the whole event. Whether they are telling an anecdote, introducing a speaker, or presenting an award, a great host will keep everyone informed and excited about your key messages.

A quick thinker 

Events can be fast-paced and there may be some details that change at the last minute or a live situation unfolding needs to be handled with a bit of quick thinking to address. Find a host who will notice, understand, and react to an unfolding situation quickly and fittingly. Appropriate humour and a bit of quick wit can go a long way to diffuse a situation and will give the audience a laugh at the same time.

Well researched 

While it would be helpful for your host to have a working knowledge of the sector for the event they are hosting, you want a host who has put in the leg work to research the key players in the room, and businesses in attendance and understands the key reasons why the event is taking place. We’ve all been to events where the host has stumbled over names or fumbled what businesses do. The trick to being a great host is to start before the event itself so everyone in the room feels like their work is respected and appreciated.

A team player 

Ultimately, your awards evening is about your guests, those shortlisted, and your winners, and you don’t want someone who is all about taking the limelight for themselves. A great award host will be generous and make delegates feel like the most important people in the room, especially if they have to come on stage to present or receive an award. Before and during the event they also need to work closely with the events team, venue, and technical crew to make sure that everything runs smoothly and everyone knows what is happening and why.

Do they make sense? 

There are plenty of agents online who peddle their high-profile or celebrity clients as awards hosts – but do they actually make sense for the event and the people in the room? Sure a famous sports star might be a cool name on the agenda, but even with a good script can they carry a conversation about your sector with enthusiasm and authenticity – maybe not. If you do go for a high-profile name make sure that there is a valid reason for them to be there, maybe a link to your region or an interest in the kinds of work you deliver, otherwise, it can come across as a little superficial.

To speak to the team about organising an awards ceremony for your business, email or give us a call at +44 (0)191 691 3456.

Ready to rock: meet our co-founder Catherine Duhaut

First things first, how did you get into events? 

Ever since I was a kid, I’ve organised people. I used to buy Top of the Pops and Smash Hits magazine and I’d read about these big celeb parties I remember thinking that that would be a great job, but not realising that people did that in real life. Staying on the showbiz theme, I went to the University of Sunderland to study Media Production to work in film and instead fell into radio which I loved. The course was mainly centered around production which I found fascinating, even in school I would build the stage sets for the drama productions rather than be front of stage.

My studies led me to some amazing work experience at XFM and BBC Radio One which I loved, but being impatient and (overly!) ambitious I decided that if I couldn’t have my own show on Radio One straight away… I would develop and produce music festivals instead, which led me to my Masters degree in Project Management. I didn’t realise going in that an MSc in project management is less about music festivals and more about engineering and manufacturing, which I ended up really enjoying! I wrote my dissertation on the difference between event management and project management and talked about the disparity between the two which led to a volunteer role at a Newcastle-based events agency, which is where I met Sarah!

What was your first role in events like?

I was coming in pretty blind, working minimum wage with zero experience, far more people arrived than they thought were going to and I ended up operating the bar (my by-night job!), I guess my resourcefulness paid off as I was hired off the back of that event. Before I finished my masters I had a full-time job at an events agency, which was too good to be true. I led a tough double life for six months managing the two,  I knew if I was serious about building a career in the sector I had to make it work. I ended up working at that same agency for six and a half years and gained a tonne of experience in organising and running events across the UK.

After I left, I freelanced for a while before the workload got a little much and Sarah and I joined forces in 2014 and BeaconHouse Events started to form to be the business it is today.

BeaconHouse Events turns 10 next year, how does that feel? 

Sometimes it feels like much longer than ten years and other times it feels like two! There have been a lot of life changes over that time and sometimes it is hard to wrap our heads around how much we have fitted into the last ten years. When we started we didn’t have this grand business plan or an idea of what the business would look like today, we have grown organically over that time but what has never changed is the mission and vision of what we wanted to deliver when we started the business. When we work with new members of the team to explain our values and mission now, it is so authentic because it is what we have been living and breathing for almost a decade – it has been embedded in the culture from the start.

Have you always been entrepreneurial? 

It’s funny because I would say no, but my parents would probably say yes! “Typical” entrepreneurial traits have always been part of my make up, such as I’ve always enjoyed organising people and could maybe be a little bossy with it, which I can now see coming through in my eldest daughter! I’m also quite competitive and ambitious which I guess are considered to be entrepreneurial traits too, but I never did a business degree or economics or sought out life as an entrepreneur. That’s where the partnership with Sarah works so well. Sarah tends to look after more of the business and strategy side of the business whereas I focus on the processes, operations  marketing and culture. Sarah excels in the parts of the business where I don’t – while I have big ambitions for BeaconHouse Events and have a real interest in the story of where our growth is coming from, I’m less inclined to spend the necessary time with spreadsheets. I think what Sarah and I have is quite unique – people will often look for a business partner after they have gone into business and my best advice would be that you can’t seek them out. If you have an affinity with someone and want to start a business, that’s great – but it’s difficult to build that rapport and trust if there isn’t already a relationship there.

Neither you nor Sarah are from the North East – why is this region a great place to do business? 

We both had personal reasons for settling in the North East and building our business here. I had met my now husband in Sunderland – I’m from Northern Ireland, and he’s French, so there was a conversation to be had about where we were going to call home and we settled on England because it was kind of in the middle…kind of! I wouldn’t change my home now for the world and I’ve not officially lived more of my life as a Geordie than in Northern Ireland these days. The North East has such a supportive, collaborative culture that it was the perfect place to start and grow BeaconHouse, and while we are fairly Northern-focused with our portfolio, the last few years and the rise of virtual and hybrid events have really shown us that we can be delivering work nationally and globally from our base here in Newcastle, which is really exciting.

What is coming up in the future that excites you? 

For me, it’s the ESG work that we have been focusing on and building on our ‘Good Workplace’ credentials. It is exciting to be delivering great work with a clear purpose of why we are doing what we are doing. Part of what we believe is that we want to create events with lasting purpose, those game-changer events where people go away with a different mindset to when they walked through the doors – and the other side of that is building an environment for a thriving team who can work together to make that happen. Creating events with meaning is still what excites me, especially when we work with a new client for the first time and we can exceed expectations about what is possible, seeing the team go above and beyond to create an experience that will have real-world impact for a client never gets old, and as we grow we’re able to be even more creative and ambitious about what we can deliver.

Do you think the events sector would benefit from more diversity? 

Absolutely. If we want to keep being creative and driving forward, we have to have that diversity of thought in the sector. Everyone in our team comes from different backgrounds, of varying ages, and have different career paths and experiences which has shaped how they see the world. Even having younger members of the team join has helped us positively challenge the way that we work and how we communicate with each other and deliver work for clients. Having access to more ideas and points of view will only make us more creative and the more diverse we are as an industry the more resilient we are and the better equipped to create experiences that are meaningful to everyone.

What do you think the most important character trait is for an events professional? 

Whatever your background I think it is really important to be curious about the world and want to be inspired by getting out and experiencing things. Our events aren’t boring and that comes from our team bringing all of their experiences to what they deliver. For me, I love food and have been lucky enough to eat in lots of different places all over the world. Transferring that experience to an event, would typically mean challenging the venue to create something brilliant, rather than your run-of-the-mill meat and veg that you might expect. Curiosity and a desire to challenge the norm and to do things differently, combined with an attention to detail and a good work ethic will get you a long way in events.

We offer training for the team and if there is something that they want to do, even if it seems a bit left-field, so long as they can tell me what they can bring from it back to the team I’m more than happy for them to go and try something new if they’re excited about it.

And finally, who would your dream client be? 

For me, I like the ‘challenging’ events – where a client comes to us to solve their problem and we have to solve the puzzle of how we are going to do it. That could be any type of event or sector, having the scope to be creative about what we deliver and seeing the client’s mind change from thinking something wasn’t possible to being excited is my dream scenario.

I’ve come a long way from where I started, I doubt very much I’d even pitch to organise something even remotely like Glastonbury any time soon! I’m much more likely to attend than seek out to be the organiser!

To find out more about how BeaconHouse Events can support your business to deliver events with purpose in 2024 and beyond, email

More than a pat on the back: The true benefit of corporate award ceremonies

Awards ceremonies offer much more than a vanity project and a chance to get dressed up, and when done right they can hold significant value for your teams, serving as a thank-you for hard work throughout the year, celebrating your success together, and creating a sense of camaraderie within your team. Let’s take a look at how investing in awards can add value to your organisation in 2024. 


Building morale 

Celebrating hard work, great ideas, or teamwork sends a clear message that these positive actions have been noted and rewarded. By saying thank you, you are not only boosting the morale of the winners but also sending a clear message that great work doesn’t go unnoticed and inspiring other members of the team to challenge themselves with their projects too. Saying thank you to individuals and teams for excellent work that has helped the organisation work towards its goals instills a sense of pride, and people who feel like their work matters form the bedrock of thriving teams who are creative, resilient, and much less prone to burnout. 


A chance to reflect 

Everyone is busy, and we rarely take a moment to reflect on the past twelve months and applaud the achievements that we’ve made. Writing award entries, nominating colleagues, collecting stats, or reading client feedback gives people a chance to think about the impact that they have made on the company or your clients, it can reaffirm their commitment to the company and the work you are doing, lead to higher levels of engagement in the year ahead, and create a more positive atmosphere when work gets busy. 


Bringing your team together 

In the age of remote or hybrid working and global teams, some colleagues may not get the chance to spend time together in person very often. Hosting an awards event not only gets people in the same room, but it can also be a chance to share stories from other parts of the business that individuals might not usually hear about if it falls outside of their immediate role. Seeing the skills of the company and learning from other departments can make people feel proud to be part of something bigger, making them much more likely to stay and engage than if they feel like they are working alone. Plus, it is always nice to get off the video chat, get dressed up, and meet colleagues in person. 


Increase productivity and creativity

Recognition can act as a powerful incentive, and so can a healthy dose of competition! Celebrating success, creativity and innovative thinking can create a culture that can have big conversations, tackle difficult problems, and aren’t afraid to try new ideas. Showing people what great work looks like can help them set higher standards for the coming year and positively challenge themselves and others. 


It gives your team something to talk about 

Your people are your best asset when it comes to talking about your business, so give them something great to talk about! A well-designed awards night won’t be a boring run-through of categories and a soggy dinner. A great awards ceremony will keep your delegates invested throughout the night, have activities or talking points to keep them engaged, and provide plenty of opportunities to share their experience with friends and family. By giving people a reason to talk about where they work, particularly on social media, you are increasing awareness of your brand as a great place to work and reinforcing your investment in your talented team, both important things if you are looking to attract and retain staff. 


Showcase your network 

An awards event doesn’t just have to be for your internal team, why not consider a celebration of your sector, your clients, or your neighbours? Getting external teams together is a fantastic marketing and networking opportunity, plus it gives you a chance to be inspired by other businesses and showcase what you have been working on too. 


Struggling with what to wear? Check out our guide on what Black Tie means in 2023


This season our team has been working hard to bring to life the Dynamites – the highly anticipated North East Tech awards, as well as the Planet Mark Awards in London and the very first HyHubs HyHeroes Awards at TyneBank Brewery. To speak to the team about organising an awards ceremony for your business, email or give us a call at +44 (0)191 691 3456.