Leeds named as one of UK’s top tech cities

Leeds has been named as the country’s seventh best city of digital technology.

Skyline of Leeds, in West Yorkshire, whereby later today Leeds City Council are debating whether to potentially bid for the title of European Capital of Culture. Date:7th January 2014. Picture James Hardisty, (JH1001/83g).

A new census, published today by The Data City, shows that the city has 5,556 organisations in the sector, covering AI and Data, ECommerce, Cyber, Digital, Gaming, Internet of Things (IoT), MedTech and Fintech.

There were also 207 events or meetups for the sector over a 12 month period between March 2018 and March 2019.

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The top ten cities overall are London, Manchester, Reading, Brighton, Milton Keynes, Birmingham, Leeds, Bristol, Edinburgh and Glasgow.

The Data City classified the data geographically to reveal the top 29 cities in the UK, looking at active businesses combined with the number of events and meetups held, to find the most thriving innovation communities by industry sector, captured in an online interactive map.

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Alex Craven, Co-founder of The Data City said: “The 2019 Digital Technologies Census provides the clearest picture yet of the digital technology landscape in the UK. Using data from Companies House and individual businesses’ own websites it shows how active the community is across eight main sectors, and allows comparison between cities and regions.

“Our new classifications allow us to ascertain levels of activity in emerging sectors that have never previously been fully evaluated, making this a methodology for the 21st century.

“The Data City has created a useful tool for businesses, investors and public sector policymakers. Using real-time data such as ours to identify areas of strength can help inform innovation policy, provide an objective basis for investment and inform individual business decisions such as where to locate.”

Mark Goldstone, Head of Policy and Business Representation, West & North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce said: “Here in Leeds we know there is a strong digital economy so it is good to see this recognised in this research.

“Leeds has a very strong reputation as a great place to start and scale up a business too, with well-developed support networks, access to funding and a range of innovation spaces including the University of Leeds’s Nexus project through to amazing space at Platform conveniently located right above the main Leeds train station.

“Leeds and the wider city region is an incredibly diverse economy providing companies with access to both skills and markets; indeed Channel Four’s recent announcement to move its HQ to the city is testament to the talent which is available here. Anyone thinking of starting or growing a digital business would be well advised to consider our city.”

The data also shows that the number of digital technology companies active in the UK as a whole is over 25 per cent larger than currently believed, by measuring emerging sectors such as AI which have previously not been quantified.

To uncover these findings, The Data City created R-TIC (Real-Time Industrial Classification) codes - which provide insight on new and emerging sectors of the industry not represented in the Standard Industry Classification (SIC codes) used by Companies House.

It analysed the 4.06 million active companies in the UK, using artificial intelligence to monitor their websites and digital footprint and correctly identify new areas of activity. As a result, The Data City found that companies previously classified as, for example, manufacturing, are now also embracing new technologies such as IoT, Digital and Fintech.

In fact, when investigating these new and emerging sectors in isolation, removing well established ‘traditional’ digital and IT businesses using the R-TIC formula, The Data City found that as much as 58 per cent of the sector was missing from previous analyses, clearly demonstrating the limitations of SIC code classifications.