Leeds Digital Festival director: collaboration ‘key’ to ‘record-breaking’ online festival

Kane Fulton, September 18, 2020 2 min read

The director of Leeds Digital Festival has hailed the city’s tech sector’s collaborative effort in helping the festival organise a ‘record-breaking’ 294 virtual events.

Now into its fifth year, the festival debuted its virtual format back in April, a move made following the introduction of lockdown measures in the UK. It returns on Monday (Sept 21) for two weeks and once again features no physical events due to Covid-19 ‘rule of six’ regulation coming into force in England.

Director Stuart Clarke believes that a combination of community collaboration and advancements in digital events platforms have made it possible for his team to pull off its second online-only festival in a year.

“Like us, the rest of the tech sector has had to move their own events online quickly, and we’ve ended up with a record-breaking number of events due to people sharing their experiences using different platforms,” Stuart says. “I get told off for using the word ‘collaboration’ too much, but I think the resilience of the sector and how it has pulled together to make the festival better has been key.”

‘Something for everyone’

The festival’s virtual events have mostly been organised by people based in and around Leeds City Region – and Stuart says that they have a stronger international element this time around.

They are set to tackle Covid 19-relevant topics including mental health (‘Caring for employee wellbeing in a digital age’), careers (‘Getting hired during a recession’) and what the future of remote working means for businesses (‘The future workplace’). At the same time, Stuart says that the festival still offers “something for everyone”.

“We have lot more international events and speakers, and we’re expecting more international attendees,” says Stuart. “While the festival is still a celebration of Leeds and showing off the businesses in it, it’s also about collaboration and how we can work with the rest of the world.”

Jem Henderson, Tech Nation’s Entrepreneur Engagement Manager for Yorkshire, is set to host the event ‘From Yorkshire to the World’ which will showcase local entrepreneurs who have successfully scaled their business internationally. Jem is also speaking at the event ‘Connecting Innovation‘.

Additionally, our Head of Entrepreneur Engagement Liz Scott is speaking on the panel ‘Finding the Next Northern Tech Unicorn’. A free online event supported by DCMS (Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport), ‘Safety Tech Unconference 2020’ is a chance for anyone working in the safety tech sector to come together.

Community, Yorkshire