City needs to '˜up its game' in marketing tech sector

Leeds's tech sector needs to market itself better nationally and internationally in the bid to raise its profile and recruit better staff, it has been claimed.

Roundtable Event at Platform, Leeds. Stuart Clarke speaks the event.16th April 2018 ..Picture by Simon Hulme

Councillor James Lewis, member for resources and stratgey with Leeds City Council, said that the city’s tech firms were performing well and the next step was to reach out more widely.

Coun Lewis made his remarks during a roundtable discussion held by property firm Bruntwood and The Yorkshire Post at the Platform offices to mark the start of Leeds Digital Festival.

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He said: “If we were having this conversation three years ago I think the batting order would have been skills and property as the first order issues, and now we are on to marketing.

“I wonder if we need to come together again as a council and a sector and say over the last three years we have made progress and this where the next challenge is.

“Perhaps there is a need to reconvene and think about where we need to focus on now.”

Stuart Clarke, organiser of Leeds Digital Festival, said: “We used to have a more cohesive approach to marketing in Leeds. We had Marketing Leeds which had about a £5m budget and then we had Leeds and Partners that had a couple of million pound budget and we don’t have anything now.

“We have lots of great things with the universities, Platform has some noise around it. But what is Leeds?

“What is that one message where you can go to London and say move your business to Leeds?”

Anne Dornan, director of innovation at Manchester Science Partnerships, which is backed by Bruntwood, said: “Access to investment is a critical part of the mix. A lot of the key elements in the funding landscape are here and getting stronger, including Mercia, who are managing the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund, and getting good deals out of the door. There’s also the Business Grow Fund and NorthInvest has just established the Leeds Angel Hub in partnership with the UK Business Angels Association. We just need to do more to attract investment up from London and the South East. Years ago it was really difficult to get a London VC on a train to come up to Northern cities. Now things are starting to change and there’s a lot more interest in what deal flow there is here and what quality investment opportunities exist in Leeds.”