What are the opportunities and challenges for digital tech founders in Leeds?

Kane Fulton, May 1, 2019 2 min read

What does Leeds have to offer ambitious digital tech entrepreneurs? We asked the following stakeholders and business leaders to find out. For granular data on Leeds’ digital tech ecosystem – including its companies (and founders), accelerators, and workspaces – see Data Commons.

Stuart Clark, Director at Leeds Digital Festival, says:

Leeds is a very collaborative city and we’ve seen how the entire city and tech sector have come together to build the Leeds Digital Festival into the largest tech event in the UK. There are also more than 50 regular monthly tech meetups. Opportunities exist in bringing the universities and the sector closer together, and building mentoring schemes across the city.

As the tech sector in Leeds is growing fast, there is pressure on in finding candidates with the right skills. We have world-class universities on our doorstep and we’re getting better in highlighting opportunities to students and keeping more talent in the area. We also need to ensure there are opportunities for people who come from non-traditional routes into tech, particularly encouraging young people from the more disadvantaged areas of the city.

Eve Roodhouse, Chief Officer Economic Development at Leeds City Council, says:

Leeds is distinctively ambitious, powered by innovators, entrepreneurs, and social pioneers. There is real momentum across the city with the arrival of the Barclays Eagle Lab in the new AvenueHQ co-working space. Additionally, there is NEXUS, the University of Leeds Innovation Centre, and Co Space North – a space for people passionate about digitally-enabled health and care to connect, collaborate and co-create.

We’ve proudly promoted diversity in the tech sector in Leeds, working hard to empower women in particular in recent years. However, we want to see a more diverse range of people being able to take advantage of the opportunities in the city, so we’re working with everyone from startups to major employers such as Sky, Deal Trak, NEXUS, and Crisp Thinking.

Revaanth Muguresan, MD and founder at Antonym, says:

It is very hard to find reasons for tech companies to not be based in Leeds. It’s a vibrant city with access to multi-national talent with over 70,000 students, giving Leeds one of the fastest-growing tech scenes in Europe. With new tech hubs booming with startups and innovation, it’s really gaining momentum.

Although our primary market is outside of the UK, with North America and mainland Europe being our two largest markets, we are proud to have every bit of our supply chain including advanced manufacturing in the UK. We will soon be establishing a Dutch branch to have a footprint in mainland Europe and have access to European talent and customers.

Jordan Appleson, MD at Hark, says:

Leeds has always had a strong digital community. In the last five years, we’ve seen it grow and the city has turned into a digital and technology hub. Startups, scaleups, corporates and enterprises have everything they need in the North. That ranges from a diverse talent pool (which continues to grow) to financial institutions who are willing to back the right businesses.

Hark operates out of Leeds; however, our cloud platform and technology has been rolled out nationwide for the top supermarkets in locations ranging from Cornwall to Inverness. We have deployments across England and Scotland with pharmaceutical customers and life science-based businesses. Internationally we’ve been working with partners in North America to deploy our technology in factories and manufacturing settings.