The digital revolution doesn’t mean the end of print, provided industry leaders respond positively to the economic winds of change, according to a senior figure at Google.
Patrick Collister, Google’s head of design for North and Central Europe, gave a bullish assessment of Yorkshire’s prospects in the digital and print sectors after attending an event in Leeds.
Mr Collister gave a speech about the new rules of communication at Google’s Digital Garage, which is near the Royal Armouries in Leeds.
He told The Yorkshire Post: “Google likes to be where interesting things are happening. Interesting things are happening here in Leeds. I think Yorkshire is the number one county in the UK, where there is investment in creative industries. That’s why Google is here.”
Yorkshire’s status as a creative digital industry hub was strengthened earlier this year, when Google decided to set up its first Digital Garage workshop in the region.
The workshop offers digital marketing courses and mentoring sessions to SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises) in Leeds, which has been chosen as the flagship city for the Digital Garage.
Mr Collister said: “The thing about any time of change is that it’s an opportunity for some people. But for people who don’t see the future, it’s a time of enormous turbulence and difficulty.
“My opening slide was about the winds of change. Some people build windmills, other people hide and take shelter.”
He highlighted the fact that many magazines were flourishing by targeting specialist audiences. The event was organised by CDi Yorkshire, which speaks up for the region’s printing, creative and digital firms and BPIF, the principal business support organisation representing the UK print, printed packaging and graphic communication industry.
Robert McClements, the chief executive of CDi Yorkshire, said: “The event was another capacity audience CDi Yorkshire event with significant interest from outside the region and key industry figures up from London.
“It was a signal of the gravitational pull of the sector,’’ he added. “In the last three years, the groundswell of (growth in) the region’s creative and digital sector has evolved into a wave of activity. CDi Yorkshire has emerged as the ‘go to’ umbrella organisation that is providing a single point of contact for public sector-led initiatives and the companies who are responding to them.”
Last month, entertainment group Sky said its new world-class technology facility in Leeds would help create a hub in the city that will prevent the cream of technology moving South to look for work.
Sky’s new facility will create up to 400 skilled jobs. The firm said they will be working at the cutting edge of digital technology, creating and developing Sky’s next generation of websites and apps.
Based at Allied London’s Leeds Dock, the firm said that Sky@Leeds Dock’ will establish a dynamic and creative environment that will transform the way Sky’s technology teams operate.
Mr McClements added: “I believe we are on the cusp of the warranted level of international recognition. By bringing together the many diverse elements of the sector, CDi Yorkshire is supporting the promotion of Leeds as ‘Data City’.
“Tech North has recognised its importance,’’ he said. “Locations like the Round Foundry and Green Sand Foundry are now part of a wider mix across the region. There are digital hubs in Barnsley and Bradford.
“This brings the challenge of demand for quality people and training.”
Mr McClements highlighted the fact that Leeds Beckett had established The Retail Institute, which connects academic excellence with big brands, while the Leeds Institute for Data Analytics is helping to keep the region ahead of the competition in the field of data analytics.