Tech Nation Talks: What are the strengths of Yorkshire’s digital tech ecosystem?

Kane Fulton, July 1, 2019 2 min read

The fourth Tech Nation Talks event of the year saw AvenueHQ, one of Leeds’ newest coworking spaces, play host to a lively evening of debate. The Chamber, the venue’s largest event space, provided a welcome retreat for around 100 guests who sought shade on what was the hottest day of the year.

Attendees included four panelists from organisations across the region who were invited to share their thoughts on what makes digital tech in Yorkshire tick. One panelist, FinTech North cofounder and Rebuilding Society CEO Dan Rajkumar, took up the offer of moving from the relative safety of the audience to the stage after a founder no-show.

Check out the video below to hear from Jem Henderson, Tech Nation’s Yorkshire Entrepreneur Engagement Manager, about some of the themes that emerged during the debate. Additionally, Stuart Clarke, Director at Leeds Digital Festival, shares his thoughts about what needs to happen for Yorkshire tech to progress to the next level.

What is Yorkshire’s greatest strength in digital tech?

Stuart Clarke, Festival Director, Leeds Digital Festival

“I think collaboration is our greatest strength. When a bunch of us set up the festival it was about two things: celebrating local tech, and being more collaborative. It’s been mentioned that we often keep quiet about the great things we’re doing. We’ve had good examples of companies, who are normally in competition, coming together to build the best events they can and contribute to the festival. We’re in a great collaborative environment across the whole of Yorkshire.”

Mel Kanarek, cofounder, Sheffield Digital

“I think it’s the scope and variety of our technology expertise, and the kinds of verticals that we work in. If you go across Yorkshire you can find focal points of pretty much every kind of tech that you want to look at, starting with the super creative and media-focused stuff, progressing to hardcore data. I think sometimes we forget this, because we’re so focused on fintech, AI or whatever the thing of the moment is. But we mustn’t forget that we have a whole scope of capability across the region.”

Ian Sharp, CEO of Future-Health and former CEO of Digital Catapult Yorkshire:

“I think our strength lies in the networks of people, and the ease of accessibility and approachability. We’ve done work in the past and when there’s interesting projects, most of the people in networks around Leeds, who are in good strong positions to collaborate, have got an open door. So if you have something interesting to talk about, and something interesting to collaborate on, that’s a massive strength. I don’t see that in other regions.”

Dan Rajkumar, director, Fintech North:

“Access to talent. I think the universities train up some really great graduates, and so it’s a really strong resource that people can work with. I was on the Barclays scaleup programme today, so I have to give a shout out to them, and one of the facets of the culture in Barclays’ organisation is trust. I haven’t appreciated it in the past, but Yorkshire folk are really trustworthy, and that’s a really strong cultural component that adds a totally subconscious credit to organisations.”

In pictures

Community, Yorkshire