Top tech firms in Steel City bring in £2 billion as ‘great strides’ made

Prof Vanessa Toulmin, Director of City and Cultural Engagement at Sheffield University.
Prof Vanessa Toulmin, Director of City and Cultural Engagement at Sheffield University.

A new report highlighting the strength of Sheffield’s creative digital sector has been published today as the city campaigns to become Channel 4’s new home.

The report, jointly commissioned by the University of Sheffield and Creative Sheffield, says the city is “on the cusp of something big”, with the vast majority of companies expecting to recruit more workers over the next year.

The top 25 tech companies in the Sheffield City Region bring in more than �2 billion a year.

The top 25 tech companies in the Sheffield City Region bring in more than �2 billion a year.

It comes just a few weeks after both organisations threw their weight behind a bid to bring the national broadcaster to Sheffield, citing its central location, major transport links and reputation as a place with a wealth of creative talent as major selling points.

Dozens of companies across the city region who work in different areas of the digital sector, from video games and media to art and design, were consulted by the authors of report.

They found that more than 21,000 people are employed in digital industries across the Sheffield City Region and the top 25 tech companies alone bring in more than £2 billion a year.

Professor Vanessa Toulmin, Director of City and Cultural Engagement at the university, said: “The creative digital sector in Sheffield has already made great strides.

The creative digital sector in Sheffield has already made great strides.

Professor Vanessa Toulmin, of the University of Sheffield

“We now need to work collectively to attract and retain Sheffield’s digital talent and cultivate the digital leaders of the future.”

The report found that digital companies in Sheffield are experiencing fast growth, with turnover increasing at 47 per cent.

It also highlights how Sheffield’s pipeline of talented students and graduates can galvanise further innovation and growth for the digital sector.

Stuart Green, chief executive at Zoo Digital, said: “A number of our staff are graduates from the universities here, and we also take on a lot of temporary staff, especially international students based in Sheffield. This enables us to make content available in countries around the world, working with clients such as Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon.”

Recommendations made in the report include improving the city’s profile, establishing public and private sector support for ‘hubs’ for co-working, and that Sheffield plays a greater role in “connecting the dots” between other northern cities.

Sheffield faces considerable competition from those same cites though when it comes to attracting Channel 4, with York, Leeds and Bradford all in the mix.

Batley and Spen MP Tracy Brabin even suggested her West Yorkshire constituency as a suitable site, although Manchester or Birmingham are considered to be among the favourites.

Both cities have seen an influx of BBC workers in recent years as the corporation gradually moves more of its workforce out of the capital and into the regions.