Yorkshire tech companies secured a 79 per cent increase in investment last year, says Tech Nation report

YORKSHIRE’s leading technology companies recorded a significant increase in investment last year, despite the economic disruption caused by the pandemic, according to a new report.

Hull and East Yorkshire is emerging as a powerhouse of the technology sector.

The study from Tech Nation found that Yorkshire technology companies attracted £159m in investments in 2020, which is a 79 per cent increase on the £89m they collectively secured in 2019.

Technology firms based in Hull secured £81.4m in venture capital investment, which means it is ranked sixth in the UK list of the most popular cities for tech investment in 2020. Hull’s previous investment record was £11.2m in 2017, when it ranked 14th in Britain.

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The report said venture capital investment in Hull was driven by an £80m fundraising by smart city business Connexin, which it described as a key example of how high-growth businesses in emerging technology can drive investment into regional economies.

Jordan Appleson, the chief executive of Hark, a technology scale-up with a cloud platform that allows companies to monitor, store and analyse sensor data in real-time, said: “Over the last four years there has been massive investments into northern technology businesses.

“For scaling tech companies this is giving a further advantage as UK talent moves from the south to the north enabling our technology ecosystems in Leeds, Manchester, Hull and Newcastle to grow at an increasing rate. In addition, access to large scale investment houses that previously made most of their investments in southern tech is increasing as they are now looking to the North for opportunities.

“With a more diverse portfolio of technology firms, spread across a greater geographic area there is greater opportunity for a diverse mix of technical innovations.”

Tech Nation helps UK technology firms grow at home and abroad. More than 20 cohorts and 600 companies have graduated from Tech Nation’s growth programmes.

Adam Hildreth, CEO, of Crisp, based in Leeds, said: “Crisp’s HQ is based in Leeds, but the company has always had a global reach. From the outset, every process and procedure has been designed to work across every territory. Currently the majority of our clients are US-based companies.

“With the announcement of the Online Harms Bill in December 2020, the UK Government is at the forefront of the global fight to protect online users. Crisp plays a key role in this mission and a report published by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport last year highlighted our contribution to Leeds’ emergence as a centre of excellence for Safety Tech.

“This relentless commitment combined with our continued growth abroad is helping to pave the future of UK tech. But there is no room for complacency - recent events in the US are frightening evidence of that. We have to keep pushing the bar higher, continuing to develop new technology solutions to combat inauthentic, illegal and harmful content.

"We do this while keeping our roots firmly, and proudly, planted in Leeds, attracting top talent to the area to advance the reputation of UK tech.”