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Thriving digital tech sector is now worth £1bn to Leeds

The Leeds Digital Festival has grown to become one of the most successful events in the corporate calendar  Picture : Jonathan Gawthorpe
The Leeds Digital Festival has grown to become one of the most successful events in the corporate calendar Picture : Jonathan Gawthorpe
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THE digital sector in Leeds is now worth £1bn as growing numbers of start-ups seek to emulate the success of major players including Sky Betting & Gaming and CallCredit, according to a new study from Tech Nation.

The study found that around 168 digital tech businesses were established in Leeds in 2016. A total of 34,742 people are employed in digital tech jobs in the Leeds travel-to- work region, which underlines the sector’s significant role in the region’s economic growth.

Tech Nation, the organisation that helps to accelerate the growth of the digital sector, has also announced that Halifax-born Mike Jackson, is joining the organisation as Entrepreneur Success Director.

A Tech Nation spokesman said: “Mike will build support for tech founders in early-stage and scaling businesses.”

The spokesman added: “A winning combination of public and private sector businesses is helping to build Leeds into a major digital tech hub and encouraging startups across the region.

“Leeds and the surrounding Yorkshire cities and towns are seeing an explosion of startups and new enterprises, encouraged by organisations like NHS Digital and the Open Data Institute.

“Yorkshire’s leading universities and its large student population are also a factor behind the growth of the startup community.

“The city has strong expertise in healthtech and a growing fintech scene supported by FinTech North.”

Tech Nation is due to hold an event in Leeds today which will allow business leaders to meet Mr Jackson, who will help entrepreneurs achieve their ambitions.

The spokesman added: “Mike’s role is to build support for tech founders in early-stage and scaling businesses. He will work on developing Tech Nation’s programmes and share his own experience and insights of developing entrepreneurial businesses after many years in the technology and startup sector.”

Mr Jackson is recruiting a team of 11 entrepreneur engagement managers who will help company founders across the UK engage with other entrepreneurs, investors, advisors and local leaders.

Mr Jackson said: “I’m passionate about the Tech Nation message that we can build thriving tech clusters and connect entrepreneurs right across the United Kingdom. To do that, we are going to deliver growth programmes that are truly national and accessible from anywhere in the country and help local eco-systems to grow and expand.

“I’m really glad to be back in Yorkshire today and it’s exciting to see how much Leeds is changing with lots of young startup companies.”

Leeds is home to a thriving annual Digital Festival, which is now the largest event of its kind in the North.

In 2018 it included 170 events, 650 speakers and 20,000 attendees, celebrating all things digital from across Yorkshire.

The city also hosts a number of events aimed at encouraging diversity including the Empowering Women with Science & Tech and She Does Digital events. Stuart Clarke, festival director of Leeds Digital Festival, is also encouraging start-ups from the South to consider moving to the North through his “London to Leeds” campaign.