Some of the biggest names in Yorkshire’s tech sector have opened up about what the county needs to become a tech powerhouse.

They were talking at the launch event of the inaugural 2023 Yorkshire Tech Climbers, which showcases the region’s most exciting digital companies.

Yorkshire’s digital industry is the fastest-growing in the UK and is set to create an extra 42,000 digital tech jobs and grow by at least £1.6bn by 2025.

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Stuart Clarke MBE, festival director of Leeds Digital Festival, said: “We need more collaboration of a daily, weekly and monthly basis, to bring people together so we can learn from those successes, which we all want to emulate. Also, everyone makes a mistake at some point so let’s share those mistakes and stop other people making them.

“There are certain tech hubs in Yorkshire, like Leeds, Sheffield and Hull, that really stand out and it’s about how we can work with all the other places, like Bradford, Huddersfield, Wakefield and the rest of them, including North Yorkshire.

“How do we work together to help each other? That’s the key thing. Making Yorkshire an alternative to London. If you an overseas organisation come to Leeds, come to Bradford, come to Sheffield, it doesn’t just have to be about London.”


Alex Craven, co-founder and CEO of The Data City, said Yorkshire should play to its strengths.

“There’s a temptation, partly driven by economic policy development, for every place to want to be strong in everything, whereas every place should be free to be strong in what it’s strong in,” he said.

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“Leeds and Yorkshire have got strengths in things like net zero, digital tech sectors, advanced manufacturing. It doesn’t then have to focus on all life sciences and all of the other things. It’s got a FinTech hub, it doesn’t have to rival London. It’s got a MedTech centre, it doesn’t have to rival Cambridge, it can just be comfortable having what it’s got.”

The entrepreneur said improving Yorkshire’s transport system was critical.

“Leeds is the largest city in Europe not to have a mass transport system, any form of tram or tube,” he said. “Getting in and out of Leeds is a total gamble. That puts pressure on the car and road network.”

Joined up approach

Zandra Moore, CEO and co-founder of data analytics software business Panintelligence, hailed Leeds as the UK’s most ‘collaborative tech community’ but said Yorkshire needed to work more collaboratively because of its size.

“Yorkshire is a place where you have deep specialisms in cities that have grown up around health, energy and engineering that are really good bases for building deep tech ecosystems,” she said.

“Whether it’s energy-related tech in Hull; data, health and professional services technology that you have in Leeds; and in Sheffield we’re going to see a lot more of the sensor and engineering technology.

“You’ve got historical sectors in cities that have been here a very long time that need digital innovation.

“Yorkshire has the same challenge that the Northern Powerhouse has in connecting Manchester and Leeds. Transport remains one of the number one things that underpins that collaboration.”

Access to funding

Gareth Lynton Jones is a partner of award-winning accountancy and business advisory firm BDO and the said the county’s tech sector was ‘vibrant’.

He added: “It’s burgeoning, growing and there’s a lot of opportunity. I’m proud to be a part of it.

“Yorkshire has a lot of historical success with health and HealthTech but it’s starting to open out into different realms. I don’t necessarily think it’s pigeonholed into one area.

“The main challenge for the startups and scaleups is finding the right funders and investors who are going to take you on the journey.”

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Entrepreneur Rev Murugesan is the founder of Antonym, which has produced a plug and play ‘factory in a box’ to enable companies to manufacture locally.

He chose to base his business in Leeds rather than in London or the West Coast of America for three reasons.

“The first was access to STEM talent,” he said. “We have 12 universities across Yorkshire. We’ve been blessed with access to a great talent pool.

“The second reason is we are quite close to high-value industrial manufacturing sites like Sheffield and Doncaster where trains and aircrafts are manufactured.

“The third reason is the dynamic tech culture in Leeds.”

The Yorkshire Tech Climbers partners are BDO; Mercia Asset Management; Page White Farrer; Hyperact; TD SYNNEX; and Ward Hadaway. The associates are Leeds Digital; Leeds City Council; STFC; Business Sheffield; and Climb 23.

BusinessCloud and TechBlast are media partners for Yorkshire Tech Climbers, which was launched at Department in Leeds Dock.

Tech Climbers is organised by Active Profile.

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