The Leeds Digital Festival has grown from just 50 events in 2016 to 240 in 2023.
The success of the Festival has mirrored the growth of the city’s tech sector. But while Leeds has a lot to celebrate, it’s essential not to rest on our laurels.
The challenges and opportunities are there, but together, our diverse digital sector will continue to thrive through collaboration.
Collaboration is the key to progress, uniting people’s skills and ideas for bigger achievements. We know that It’s about working together to solve problems, and it’s a force that drives success.
In business, collaboration builds strong teams and sparks innovation. In the digital industries, it leads to ground-breaking discoveries, like the internet.
Collaboration isn’t limited to specific fields – it’s vital for tackling global issues like climate change and poverty. The Leeds startup scene spans FinTech, HealthTech and many other key sectors. Tred is one of the first debit cards that allows customers to track and offset their carbon emissions. Leeds is bursting at the seams with good ideas.
The Festival has supported collaboration that enriches the personal lives of attendees, strengthens connections and builds communities. Whether it’s family, colleagues, or a global network, collaborating brings people together and makes the world feel smaller.
When we work together, we achieve more. Over the years, the Festival has supported people to take their first role in the sector or start to climb the career ladder. Many of our city’s digital leaders have made lasting friendships through networking.
Despite the current economic turmoil, Leeds’ businesses are showing good growth in a variety of industries, expanding their workforces, and outperforming national averages in all the key tech and cyber areas.
A study commissioned by Leeds Digital Festival shows that while the national cyber sector has declined by 0.6%, Leeds’ growth rate is 9.9%. The study was developed in partnership with The Data City, a fast-growing scale-up company using AI-driven insight to understand the world’s industries better.
From startups to global brands, a variety of enterprises contribute to growth. Kroll, a source of information on risk, governance, and growth with headquarters in New York, recently bought Leeds-based technology company Crisp. It demonstrates how our city can help enterprises reach their full potential.
All across the city, we see innovation leveraging digital technologies, strategies, and approaches to create new products, services, processes, and business models. Entrepreneurs are using technology to transform existing practices or to develop entirely new solutions that can have a significant impact on various aspects of business, society, and daily life.
When it comes to digital connectivity, Leeds has long led the UK. The universities are essential in producing tech talent and fostering innovation in the region. Earlier this year, The University of Leeds hosted Digital Universities UK, a conference that brings together higher education, business, and government leaders at the forefront of technology and innovation.
While Nexus Leeds created a supportive community for innovators that is already home to world-leading companies like data-cloud business Snowflake and STEM education services provider, Yondar.
People across the sector are motivated to bring about positive change. A task force was formed in collaboration with The Cabinet Office to boost the number of women-led, high-growth firms, with an emphasis on areas outside of London.
Zandra Moore, CEO and co-founder of Leeds-based software specialists Panintelligence, joined the task force to address the issue of the lack of finance experienced by women-led enterprises, defined as those with more than 50% female directors. Only 5% of fundraising rounds in Leeds go to businesses with a female founder.
Innovation is also supported by numerous regional incubators and accelerators where business owners can find the help they need. One example is The Female Founders Incubator, which helps members succeed by providing peer support and up to £20,000 in business support.
Across the digital ecosystem, collaboration between established businesses, startups, and individuals is driving the development of innovative solutions that will deliver economic and job opportunities, alongside societal benefits.