Leeds: Our Roots, Our Pride
Leeds may not be huge, and it may not be London, but its 551 km² has contributed its fair share of great opportunities and ‘firsts’ to the world. Marks & Spencer started life as a penny bazaar stall on Leeds market…. Look at them now!
Leeds is one of the UK’s fastest growing cities, employing over 102,000 people and contributes a massive £64.6 billion to the economy, the Leeds digital scene is rapidly growing and should not be underestimated.
Third Best Outside of London
The importance of digital is becoming a vital focus for many businesses, with 36% reporting a higher investment in digital infrastructure in 2019. Leeds City Region is increasingly observed as a top location for digital businesses to operate and relocate to, with Channel 4, GHD, Asda, Burberry, Sky, Jet2 and Yorkshire Bank headquarters or key operations all being located in Leeds.
Leeds City Region has a thriving digital creative sector, home to 20 of the fastest-growing tech companies in the North of England, according to Northern Tech 100, and 13 of Prolific North’s Top 50 PR Agencies. So…what’s driving all this growth?
In 2018, the city was chosen to host 21 new projects and Leeds has been ranked the third best performing city in the UK outside of London for attracting foreign direct investment. It’s clear that investors continue to see Leeds and Yorkshire as a competitive site for investment.
Not forgetting national investment. Digital and business service sectors accounted for a large majority of UK foreign direct investment. EY’s recent report demonstrates Leeds’ strong digital capabilities and thriving technology which makes it well placed to capitalise on investment opportunity.
We have seen tech hubs popping up around the city, take Bruntwood’s Platform building, it attracts and support the expansion of digital technology businesses. Continued growth by Australian fintech Sandstone Technology, plus the arrival of Estonian fintech scale-up Fitek and US sports analytics business Hudl confirm Leeds as now having the highest concentration of scale-ups outside London.
Outside of foreign direct investment, Leeds City Region has also attracted significant levels of domestic investment which is driving this digital revolution. Leeds City Region Enterprise have funded £1 million to encourage digital businesses in relocating to Leeds, offering reduced business rates, enhanced capital allowances and grants. There are now already 3,500 agencies in Leeds.
Leeds City Council also delivered a £3.7 million grant for tech schemes last year, which bolstered the city’s digital status further.
While the above investments have helped accelerated the digital industry in Leeds, this would not have been possible without support and investment from the city’s three universities to cultivate and retain digital talent in Leeds.
Some of the biggest multinational companies have set up in Leeds, generating thousands of new jobs, and if you haven’t already heard, Channel 4’s new national HQ is in Leeds! Almost all of its creative and digital departments have be relocated here, helping to strengthen our powerful hub for screen, creative and digital talent.
HMRC have also announced plans to move 5,000 jobs to Leeds by 2020 in order to support a more digitally focused and advanced tax service.
Leeds also hosts the annual Leeds Digital Festival – one of the largest digital events in the UK. In 2018, Leeds Digital Festival hosted 170 events in over 60 venues across two weeks, attended by 20,000 people, which saw more tech events being hosted in the city than in San Francisco. Leeds Digital Festival is where we launched our technology initiative – RegTech Talks, discussing how technology is being developed to aid in regulatory compliance.
The emerging creative hub in Leeds has been accelerated by The Northern Powerhouse shift, which aims to decentralise industries away from London, highlighting why Leeds is worth investing in.
The Start-up Community
According to the Start-up Cities Index list, Leeds is of the best places to set up a business, ranking sixth overall. The study looks at crime rates, culture, house prices and much more. According to Tech Nation, the number of new digital businesses rose by 138% between 2011 and 2016 and this has continued to grow. We only have to look at the number of digital start-ups emerging in the city to see the true entrepreneurial spirit in Leeds.
There’s a real opportunity for Leeds and the wider region to capitalise on our position as a digital economy and continue to attract talents and investment.
Thinking of moving to Leeds and looking for B2B Marketing and Corporate Communications support? We’re here to help!