This article was originally posted on the Tech North website.
Recently, Tech North hosted a Northern Powerhouse reception as part of London Technology Week. There we highlighted technology companies from Hull, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Sheffield and Sunderland.
To tie in with the event, we’re talking to a company from each city to find out why they’re based there.
There’s a real buzz around Hull at the moment. The recent opening of the C4Di building has crystallised the sense of ambition and confidence within the city.
One man who can talk with experience about the changing mood in Hull over the years is David Keel, co-founder of brand management firm Trident.
20 years ago, Trident was a startup that spotted an opportunity in the expanding world of brands. As companies’ logos spread to whole ranges of products (chocolate bars spawning drinks, for example), the firm helped make sure brand graphics were identical around the world, complete with specially developed technology to ensure they could not be edited without permission.
Then a decade ago, Trident spotted an opportunity to go further. With the increasing amount of online content being produced around the world, visuals were needed to accompany advertising and editorial illustrations. Using computer graphics instead of photography, the company could create a huge volume of visuals for any occasion that made brands look their best. In recent years this has expanded to accommodate growing demand for video.
Trident works with the likes of Proctor & Gamble, Unilever and Loreal, as well as retailers like Walmart and Amazon. Keel says the company has helped to promote around a third of the products in your weekly shop.
What’s so good about Hull, anyway?
Based in Hull but with presences in Asia and North America, Trident employs 750 people worldwide. But Keel says they’d never dream of relocating. His list of reasons for staying in the East Yorkshire city go well beyond mere hometown affection:
Local telecoms company Kcom, unbeholden to the national BT network, has aggressively rolled out fibre internet connections. In fact, it’s been said that a third of all the UK’s fibre is under the streets of Hull, and C4Di, where Trident is based, is arguably one of the best-connected buildings in the UK.
The C4Di itself is a valuable addition to the city, and Keel says that it’s a great source of extra developers when the company needs to bring on new staff.
Hull’s upcoming UK City of Culture status in 2017 has boosted local confidence. “It’s like everyone’s waiting for Christmas,” Keel says. “It will be like a 365-day party, people will be in high spirits and people do better when they’re in high spirits.”
Hull is a ‘gateway to Europe,’ with a huge sea port and easily accessible airport making connections to the rest of the world a cinch.
There’s been significant commercial investment in Hull lately. RB, the name behind brads like Nurofen and Harpic has invested £105 million in a Centre for Scientific Excellence, and Siemens has invested heavily in renewable energy projects such as a £160 million plant for building rotor blades for wind farms.
In short, Keel has a passion for Hull that comes across clearly even when you speak to him on the phone. If you’re going to investigate more about what the city has to offer, it would make sense to start with Trident.
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