It takes a lot to get the London tech scene to lift off from East London, let alone out of the M25’s orbit altogether. Sheffield counts as interstellar space for most tech types, but it was here that the Deep Impact series travelled to this year – many light years from its previous Kensington venue. There were no incoming asteroids in sight, just an independent cinema as the unusual landing site. Despite the long journey through deep space, there was a strong attendance from the London contingent. Delegates were drawn by the focussed and specialist crowdfunding content. Prior to my arrival, I was expecting a more trade-fair style, with pitches from support providers aimed at winning the wallets of the audience. However, the style of the event was much more peer led, rather like an unconference, but with a conventional keynote style.

Events didn’t take much time to get up to speed, with the first talk from Jess Ratty of Crowdfunder.co.uk being perhaps the most memorable of the whole day. With strong, examples-based tuition in launching great campaigns, .she told compelling stories of what can be achieved when you get your crowd behind you. Yes – it is possible to get a major global act like the Foo Fighters to a rural county that’s so far from London you can get a sleeper train. They did it in Cornwall, and showed you how it was done.

Second up was a hard-hitting academic talk about the industry from Richard Swart. As a regular attendee of academic conferences, I’m usually disappointed by the hand waving and recited luck at many keynotes in the commercial sector. This was different – it was high quality, peer reviewed work. You could rely on the conclusions, and the big takeaway for me was the fact that crowdfunding success was positively correlated with the number of Facebook friends the entrepreneurs had. Don’t jump the gun – trying to friend your kids won’t necessarily get you there, because correlation doesn’t mean cause. Instead, look to get the right people around you before you launch.

This talk also kicked off the analysis of legal issues, which were a thread running through the whole day. Legal is why the UK is ruling the world in crowdfunding. We have a developed equity crowdfunding industry, which means we raise far more from the average investor than US firms do. Seedrs and Crowdcube are leaving the Americans standing. The law was further explored in later panel sessions, which included top experts in the sector, such as Chris Moss – Partner and Head of Corporate at JMW Solicitors. These people were making waves at the heart of government, and sought punchy case studies from the audience of where the current legal framework was holding up projects. There was a lot of discussion about how out-of-touch the current regulators were, with potent examples of how ‘the men in grey suits’ just don’t live in the digital world.

Tickets were relatively inexpensive, at only £125 per head. Particularly bearing in mind the small delegate list and the strong speaker line up, this was a good value day. It’s grim up North, but the living is cheap. For the crowdfunding community, Deep Impact is therefore a high-priority mission. Let’s look forward to 2015’s launch window, and hope we don’t have to leave low Earth Orbit to get there.