August 19, 2015

Leeds: the Digital Capital of the North

Leeds: the go-to place for DigitalLeeds has long been known for having the largest legal and financial sector outside London – now it can make that claim for the Digital sector also.

Let’s look at a few stats:

34,7424 Digital tech jobs

£1.3bn Digital GVA

£83k Digital tech turnover per employee

£1bn Digital tech business turnover

Long a centre for digital innovation (the free internet model was developed here by Freeserve), the city continues to develop. Leeds DataCity, a collaboration between the City Council, Bloom agency, the Leeds Node of the Open Data Institute and KPMG, is developing innovative ways of using data to solve a city’s problems.

The Institute for Data Analytics is working on ground-breaking ways of using data to understand health and human behaviour, attracting funding of £12m in the process. NHS Digital, which hosts 70 million patient records and handles over 6bn messages annually, is based in the city; it developed its data systems with local company BJSS.

The region’s digital infrastructure is centred on aql, run by Adam Beaumont, who is also a founder and board member of IX Leeds, the main internet peering hub for the north and the only mutual, not for profit, internet exchange outside of London.

Leeds is moving ahead of other cities, not least because there are more annual STEM graduates coming out of Leeds City Region’s universities than Greater Manchester, Greater Birmingham or the Sheffield City Region. As well as having five of the North’s Top Ten Digital agencies  based in the city.

It’s also a collaborative city, with around thirty regular tech meetups, from DevOps to Lean In to Founders Friday. It’s home to Leeds Digital Festival, the largest digital festival in the north of England. In 2018, there were 170 events with over 20,000; during the Festival, there were more tech events in the city than in San Francisco.

The growth in the Digital sector in the city has been impressive and will grow even more, as not only the existing companies expand, but outside firms will use data to work out that there’s only one alternative to London: Leeds.